Friday, September 4, 2009

Been Too Long

Well, it's been over a month since my last posting so it's time for a big update. Since my last blog post I've been putting in a lot of miles, more than I've ever done in a month before. The last two weeks I have put in 86 and 85 miles respectively and am currently on pace for 80+ miles again this week. I have run two races in August and will be running my final tune-up race a week from Sunday in Minneapolis. I ran the Mora Half-Marathon in scorching hot conditions. Needless to say I did not have a good day. Most people don't enjoy long races in hot conditions, I may be even worse than most. I prefer near frigid conditions for my longer races. I ended up running just over 1:29:00 for the half-marathon, finishing 11th overall. Last Saturday I ran a cross country 5K in River Falls and finished 2nd in our Alumni race in a time of 17:25, my fastest 5K since college track over two years ago. It felt remarkably easy, which was a good feeling for me.

The rest of my training has been very solid. I ran 2 20+ mile runs over the last month. The first was at the Lakes in Minneapolis with Kyle and we ran a 20.5 miles in under 2:20:00, an average of around 6:45-6:50 per mile. 3 weeks later we did 20.5 miles again, this time along East and West River Roads and Summit Avenue with some Fartleking on Summit Avenue. We completed the 20.5 mile run in under 2:15:00, averaging 6:40 per mile this time. Those workouts have been very encouraging for my fitness. I am hoping for a good solid 25K race next Sunday to give me a final boost of confidence leading into the marathon in a month. The last 20+ mile run will be tomorrow morning with a planned 7 mile tempo in the latter part of the run at GMP (goal marathon pace), which is about 6:10 per mile.

Along with my training, high school cross country season is underway. At Watertown-Mayer, the team's first meet was yesterday afternoon in Maple Lake, MN. It was a pretty hilly course so times were not fast plus it was the first meet of the year. The team has a lot of potential so the meets will be very exciting as the season continues. School starts on Tuesday so my days will only get busier and busier. The fortunate part is that the initial taper starts right after the City of Lakes 25K gets done.

Friday, July 31, 2009

A Workout to Remember

My workout last night was one for the ages, but not because of the workout itself. I drove out to River Falls, WI to run with my college teammates Kyle and Justin and a current UWRF runner, Scotty. We were going to go to the UWRF track to do a 5 mile tempo run at goal marathon pace. The track and football field was setup for the Kansas City Chiefs training camp as they hold their camp on the campus there every summer. Practice starts today so we showed up to get our workout in the night before the place turned into a zoo. As we got going on the workout we were hitting pace real well and everyone was feeling good until the 2nd mile.

During the 2nd mile, two people in red shirts came out to the track to tell us we had to leave the track. Needless to say, we weren't going to stop just because a couple guys told us to when they had no real authority. Both of them were working for the campus for the training camp, one of them was a former football player and "track athlete" for the university. We had only 20 minutes left at that point so we just kept going. The two guys continued to yell at us quite disrespectfully each time we went by, so I finally said, "If you want us to stop, then catch us!" Kyle and Justin also had their own things to say. Eventually, the former "athlete" got on the phone and 3.5 miles in the campus police arrived and our workout came to an end.

We could all tell right away the campus policeman thought it was ridiculous that he had to come out here to deal with something like this. We explained our story and that we were doing nothing wrong and that there were no signs telling us to stay off the track. He fully agreed with us and decided to talk to the head of the facilities, a former coach of ours no less, to let him know this call was ridiculous. We still left the track and ran over to the River Falls High School track to do 2 more miles at pace. On our way over, we spotted the two guys who had gone on a power trip, and needless to say when they saw us coming, they both went and hid inside the hockey arena!

We finished our workout at the high school track but we were all still fuming and had the adrenaline pumping even on our cool down run after the workout. Justin even ran 100 meters backwards during the final 2 miles of the tempo and kept his pace!

This report of the situation is much calmer than it would've been had I written this post last night. I felt it would be better to sleep on it before I posted. I don't normally badmouth people unless they really get me fired up but one thing that will always get me fired up is a complete disrespect for runners, especially by football players, and especially when we know we are doing nothing wrong. However, this workout/moment takes the cake for me.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Racing Update

In the last week I have run three short distance races, all with something good to take away from them. Last Saturday I ran at the first annual Jammin' Jamaican Run in Wells, MN. I ran both the 5K and the Mile race there, winning the mile and placing 4th in the 5K. It was a cross country style race, something I hadn't done in almost 3 years! It proved to be a great challenge for me but it was a lot of fun to try it again. The course proved to be fairly slow with a number of 180 degree turns and a few hay bails to hurdle so times certainly were not very fast. I ran an 18:57 in the 5K and 5:39 in the mile but running hard and competing in a different style for me was a very good experience. The best part for me was to be able to spend the weekend with a great friend and his family. It was great to get away from the routine of my summertime life in the Cities and to just forget about all the other things going on.

The week concluded with me running 75 miles, my highest of the TCM training so far. I'm planning to hold steady around 70-80 miles per week for the next couple weeks before ramping up to close to 90 miles per week. I've never done that before so we'll see what my body can handle.

The third race of this past week was on Wednesday night in downtown Minneapolis. It was the annual Torchlight 5K, run just prior to the Aquatennial Torchlight Parade down Hennepin Avenue. I've run this race 3 times before but not since 2004. When I finally arrived and parked, I barely had enough time to run to get my BIB and my shirt at the Basilica, get back to my car, change and get to the starting line. I got to the line a little frustrated because I didn't feel like I was able to warm-up the way I wanted to but I couldn't do anything about it. The horn blew and I took off flying off the starting line. There were thousands of people lining the streets cheering, and thousands of people running as well. I went out way too fast and I paid for it on the 3rd mile but ultimately it worked out. I ran a 17:41, my fastest 5K since my last college track 5K over 2 years ago. I felt the legs start to burn at the start of the final mile which told me I was definitely pushing the pace. I finished somewhere in the top 60 but since this was a fun run, no official times were kept and no places were recorded. I don't know exactly how many people ran but there was at least 4,000 to 5,000 in it if not more than that.

My next race now is a more serious race for me, a half-marathon in Mora, MN on August 15th. It will be my best test so far to see how my training is going for me. I'm looking forward to focusing on my training for the next 3 weeks without any racing interruptions though. The races are a lot of fun to do and good opportunities to test myself but they can sometimes throw off the training of a given week. I have some interval workouts coming up as well as some very good tempo workouts and of course some quality long runs. I'm doing a long 16-17 miler in Stillwater tomorrow morning with a friend of mine, Mike Reneau. It will be a good hilly long run which will also be a good workout for me, above and beyond just running the long distance.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Great Week of Training

This week has certainly been my most productive training week of the summer so far. On Thursday I completed my first two-a-day of the summer. I plan for two to three of these a week as August hits. Thursday I ran an easy 4 miles in the morning with my WMHS runners and then headed out to River Falls to do some mile repeats with two college teammates in the evening. Kyle ran 8 miles and Justin and I did 5 miles each. We averaged around 2:30-2:45 recovery time in between each one. The wind on the track was unusually light which was great for running well on the track. I ran 5:51, 5:50, 5:48, 5:48, and 5:43 for my 5 miles. I ran the first 4, took the 5th mile off and ran the 6th one. After that I ran alternating laps to pace Kyle through his final 2 mile repeats. I ran the 400s in 79, 81 and 77 seconds respectively. Kyle ran his 7th and 8th miles in 5:24 each, giving Kyle a very good indication that he is running very strong right now.

All 3 of us that did the workout are preparing for the Twin Cities Marathon in the fall. Twin Cities will be Kyle's first career marathon, it will be my 8th marathon and 4th Twin Cities, and it will be Justin's 5th career marathon and 4th Twin Cities as well. Justin is also an ultramarathoner and will be running a 12 hour run in Milwaukee during Labor Day weekend.

This workout gave me a good indication of my fitness at this point in my training. I am already feeling good about it, especially with this workout being my first faster workout since my last marathon two months ago. I have run 56 miles so far this week with an 11-12 mile run planned for tomorrow. I ran 15 miles bright and early this morning along Summit Avenue in St. Paul. I pushed the pace in the middle 5 miles of the run from approximately the 21 mile mark to the finish line of the Twin Cities Marathon course. The long run felt great and the weather was phenomenal.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Time for an update

It's been a little while since I last posted so I figured an update was overdue. I've been running pretty steadily over the last couple of weeks, getting in 60 and 64 miles over the last two weeks. I ran an 8K road race in Blaine, MN on the morning of the 4th of July to test out the strength and recovery of my left hamstring. I didn't push the pace, just ran a good effort to make sure my hamstring could go fast again before I ramped up my training for Twin Cities. The race went well and the hamstring felt good the whole way. I ended up running 30:39 for 8K and placed 5th overall. Not too bad considering I was not racing at all.

I am aiming for somewhere between 65 and 70 miles this week with today being an off day for me. I am doing a two-a-day tomorrow for the first time, running an easy 4-5 miles with my WMHS runners and then doing a hard workout with Justin and Kyle in River Falls, WI tomorrow night. It will be my first up-tempo/interval type workout of the summer (with the exception to Saturday's road race). I'm looking forward to doing a harder workout with some good training partners, something I don't always get in my neck of the woods.

My next race is on July 18th in Wells, MN. It is a cross country 5K and mile set of races raising money for a missions trip to Jamaica this winter. The race is being organized by my friend Justin. If you're looking for a fun race and a change of scenery in terms of getting off the roads and racing on some soft stuff, make the trip down to Wells. It should be a lot of fun! There is a link to race info on the right side of the page under 2009 Races, it's called the Jammin' Jamaican Run.

I hope the summer is going well for everyone's training. It will fly by quick and the fall will be upon us very soon!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Personal Highs, Running Lows

Over these last couple of weeks my running has been up and down, mostly down. The good news though, is that just about everything else in life has been awesome. The school year is over and I have lots of free time this summer, which will be extremely great once my body gets back to 100% for running (I'm around 90% right now).

The best news of all is that as of last Friday I am engaged to the most amazing girl in the entire world! We are planning for a wedding next summer which is already extremely exciting to begin the planning and working on coming up with all of our ideas for our ceremony and celebration.

As far as running has been going, it has been up and down lately. A week and a half ago I re-aggravated my hamstring injury while doing some biking, the cross training my doctor told me to do. The running has not hurt my hamstring at all. Since then I have stopped doing any biking and my cross training has become some swimming and aquajogging. I have gone running the last 4 days though and it's been getting better and better with each day. I ran for over 1 hour each of the last two days in the heat and humidity. The legs felt good although the rest of the body was struggling due to the weather.

The other big thing I've had to do this week is to re-evaluate my racing plan for the summer. I most likely will not be racing on the 4th of July so my first race of the summer will be the Jammin' Jamaican Run in Wells, MN. I also will not be running the Rice Street Mile since that race has been canceled this year. The same night as that race was scheduled to be is also the Lifetime Fitness Torchlight 5K in Minneapolis. I've run this race 3 times before but it's been 5 years since I last did it. I haven't decided on that one yet but it's certainly an option. I am also looking at one of 3 half-marathons in August: Gopher to Badger, Mora, and Rochester. I will do one of the 3 but I haven't decided which one yet. A lot will depend on how the training over the course of the month of July goes and when I feel I'll be ready for a half-marathon race.

I am going into the doctor's later on this week to hopefully get the okay to up my training in July so here's hoping all goes well with that.

Stay cool this week everyone!!

Sunday, June 7, 2009


It's been a few weeks since I last updated, a lot has been going on. Friday was the last day of school for me as a first-year teacher! I survived my first year and am looking forward to year #2. I also spent all day at the state track meet at Hamline in the wind and rain cheering and coaching. For Watertown-Mayer we had 3 girls and 1 boy make it to state and we had one of our girls qualify and place in the top 3 in four different events! It was a lot of fun to see her compete so hard and do so well.

I am also back into the swing of things with my running. I started back up about two weeks ago and got the okay from the doctor to get back into a steady training plan. The only drawback is that I can't do any tempo or speed workout for another two weeks because of some still minor tightness in my hamstring. I am doing a lot of strengthening exercises to get my hamstring back to 100%. I can go and run steady miles without any problem but I just have to be careful with my pace for a little while longer.

I am heading out on a 10 mile run later this morning. With that run my weekly mileage will reach 45 miles and I am hoping to be up in the mid-50s for mileage next week. As long as things continue to improve the way they are I am aiming to be in the 70s for weekly miles by the start of July and into the 90s and even possibly hit 100 for a week or two before the end of the summer.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Microtears in the Left Hamstring

I went to the doctor on Tuesday after school and found out I have some small microtears in my left hamstring where the tendon meets the actual muscle. It's not too serious of an injury but it's enough to keep me from running for about two weeks. I'm doing a lot of icing, a lot of stretching and I'll be doing some aquajogging a few times over the next week so I can at least get some workouts in. I can start running again at the end of next week as long as everything is feeling all right and it has been getting better each day.

This is probably the best time for me to be forced to take off because I am in between training for marathons. The first week of June will be the first week of marathon training for Twin Cities next fall so I've got a couple weeks before that starts. As long as all things go well, I'll still be on track to get right back into it very soon.

Monday, May 11, 2009

2009 Fargo Marathon

A day with some very high hopes ended with a goal P.R. still unreached. Despite that, I had a lot of fun at the Fargo Marathon. I ran a hard race, I went after my goal, came up short, but I never would have been close to it had I not gone after it. I ended up running 3:01:40 and placed 31st overall out of around 1,250 runners. It was second fastest marathon ever so I'm still fairly happy with that.

The start of the race was very emotional and inspiring. With all of the flooding the city of Fargo had dealt with and fought through, there was a lot to celebrate with this event. The mayor came out to be the official starter of the race. The national anthem was very moving and the invocation prayer by a local pastor was very moving and uplifting. With this being a slightly smaller marathon I was able to get myself directly behind the elite runners and was only about two or three steps behind the starting line. The horn sounded and we were off running down University Drive going right by my old college campus.

I felt like the first mile was so slow, I felt like I wasn't working but it's amazing what adrenaline can do to a man. I ended up running 5:54 for my opening mile! It felt like a 6:40. I went to the bathroom on mile 2 and eased up on my pace. Still, it took me a while to ease up enough to get down to where I had wanted to be at. Ultimately this was probably a big part of what prevented me from running stronger later.

At the halfway point, I was in 14th place at 1:23:19, my 4th fastest time for a half-marathon ever! I managed to make it to around mile 18 holding steady at my pace before the pace began to fall off. At mile 20 I was still in 15th overall but my pace had slowed considerably. The last 6.2 miles were complete survival mode. I averaged over 8 minutes per mile for the final 10K and I just managed to keep running to the finish. In my young marathon career this was only my second marathon in which I did not walk at all (my P.R. of 2:59:01 is the only other one). The finish was very cool inside the FargoDome. Lots of people in the stands cheering really loud, being very supportive just like all the spectators along the course had been all morning.

After I was done, I got interviewed by some local reporters on camera. I don't remember where they were from and for a few hours I couldn't remember what they had asked me. I got so light-headed I couldn't think or remember much of anything about the race. When I went to lunch later, it began coming back to me though. It was a little scary for a while though when I couldn't. Today many of my students were amazed by what I had just done. It's hard to believe that when I crossed the finish line I was a little disappointed that I didn't P.R. or reach my goal time. I still finished a 26.2 mile race in a little over 3 hours. Most people would love to be able to do that. I just have a determination and a drive to try to get better that I don't want to accept a finish like this, despite how good it actually is.

I chalk every race, good or bad, up to being a learning experience. If I don't learn something new about myself during the course of a race, then I really feel I didn't accomplish anything. This is the hardest I've ever trained for a marathon before. Perhaps I trained too hard. Analyzing my training plan will tell me more about that in the days to come. I had a bad hamstring that flared up on me again. I am going into the doctor's in the next week to get that looked at. It also could have played a part. It could be something as simple as I just went out too fast and paid for it late in the race. It could be a combination of all of them.

It could still be that the course was longer than 26.2 dad's co-worker ran the marathon with a GPS on and at the finish her GPS recorded a distance of 26.7 miles, half a mile longer than it should have been! Now, this of course is unofficial and won't change anything in the final results, but it is potentially a bit disappointing if that were to end up being the case. Half a mile for me meant a new marathon P.R. or not. Oh well, nothing you can do about it. I'm happy about how things are going with recovery and I'll be running again soon and in a few short weeks, training for the 2009 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon and another attack at 2:45 will begin.

Friday, May 8, 2009

One Day Away

It's 6:45 am the day before the Fargo Marathon and I can't sleep anymore. I took the day off of work today to travel up to Fargo so I had planned to sleep in this morning, go for a short run and then hit the road. So far, I'm 0 for 1 on that plan. I've basically been wide awake for over an hour with nothing but the race running through my mind. For me, getting nerves like this is a good thing but getting the sleep is also a good thing. I might have to take a little nap on the drive up to Fargo today.

The weather report is becoming more and more likely to be correct by this point in the week and we're looking at low 40s and partly cloudy during the race, absolutely perfect for me. And those strong Fargo winds, they're gonna be pretty calm tomorrow as well. This is shaping up for a big P.R. kind of day for me! I always look forward to the whole experience of running a marathon and being a part of the entire event. Aside from race day easily being my favorite day of any training season, the race expo the day before has to be a not too distant second. I haven't been to Fargo's expo before so we'll see how it compares with the others I've been to. Just being around all those other runners and all of these companies, races, and stores in one place, being there for all of us runners is just so cool to me! Being at one of these expos is like putting my 10 year old self in a toy store with the candy store attached next door, I'm in heaven!

The goal for race day remains 2:45 or under, a 14 minute P.R. if all goes according to plan. Regardless of what happens tomorrow morning in Fargo, North Dakota though, the ultimate reason why I'm doing what I'm doing will never change: I'm praising God and thanking Him for blessing me with the gift of being able to run the way I do and for giving me the joy and passion to want to do it. It's all about my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I wouldn't be where I am today without Him.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with perseverance the race God has set before us."
- Hebrews 12:1

Monday, May 4, 2009

Getting Excited!

With my 7th career marathon only a little over 4 days away the nerves have truly begun to set in. I'm checking the Fargo weather forecast every single time I hop online. Every moment that I get a chance to stretch out my legs in any way, I do it. There is a water or Powerade bottle almost permanently attached to one of my hands (a Powerade bottle is about half a foot from my keyboard at the moment). I'm going to bed 15 minutes earlier than the night before each night (tonight that means in bed at 8:45 pm). I'm getting very anxious and the race is virtually the only thing on my mind.

Only a few workouts remain and tomorrow I'll be up to do a set of 400s on the track at 6 am. We are hosting two track meets this week (tomorrow and Thursday) so those days, getting a workout in during the afternoon will be next to impossible. I did this today as well and it got me off to a good start for the week. I'm leaving for Fargo on Friday morning to go to the expo and to get my race packet. I just really want to get through this week of teaching so that I can get to Fargo to be ready to race. I honestly don't know that I've thought through and prepped myself for a single race as much as I have for this one. I tend to do better the more prepared I feel so I think this is a good sign!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Wet Windy Run

Today's run brought back fond memories of last October's Twin Cities Marathon. It was very wet, a little windy and there was a definite chill in the air. I did a tempo workout on the Dakota Trail by my apartment and it felt great. I got my pace down under 6:00 per mile for the final 20 minutes of the tempo and it felt very comfortable. Along with getting in a good workout in the rain I tested a new piece of running apparel during my workout: arm warmers. Many elite runners have been seen in marathons over the last few years wearing these on cool days as a way to keep their arms warm without having to wear a long-sleeved shirt under their uniform. After wearing them in cool wet conditions I can totally understand why many runners have begun to wear them. I have a pair of Asics warmers and they cover my arms from my wrists all the way up to my shoulders. A great benefit to them is that if you get warm and no longer need them, you can pull them right off without having to remove your shirt or uniform to get them off. The particular pair I have also kept my arms dry from the rain as well as keeping them warm.

I know for sure that if it is a cool morning in Fargo in 2 weeks, I will be wearing these on the starting line of the marathon. With less than 2 weeks until the race now, the tapering is really beginning. I still hit 60 miles this week but next week I'll drop down to around 50 miles with one day off as well. The week of the marathon I'll probably get 30-35 miles in prior to the actual race. In the past this level of tapering has proven fairly effective for me. I am also going to begin getting to bed a little earlier this week. During a normal week I can get by with around 7 to 7.5 hours of sleep a night. My goal this week is to get at least 8 hours a night and the week of the marathon between 8.5 and 9.5 hours a night.

It's going to be a good couple of weeks. Getting past this rain this weekend and the next few days coming up, the weather looks to be very good in favor of some ideal marathon conditions. Next weekend I am going to head out to Eau Claire, Wisconsin to watch the 1st annual Eau Claire Marathon to check out the race and the course to see what it's going to be like. May is quite the month for marathoning in the upper midwest: Eau Claire, La Crosse (Wisconsin) and Lincoln (Nebraska) next weekend, Fargo the following weekend, Green Bay in 3 weeks, Madison and Stillwater in 4 weeks and Minneapolis in 5 weeks. With these new marathons I am looking forward to checking them out to see some potential future races that I may run in springs to come.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mile Repeats in a Heat Wave

Today I ran one of my last interval workouts prior to the marathon in two weeks. I picked the hottest day of the year so far to do it and it was ridiculously windy as well. Considering those conditions, I ended up having a really good workout. I averaged 5:42 per mile with only 5 minutes of recovery between the 4 miles I did. When I did this workout last fall prior to the Twin Cities Marathon, my fastest mile was 5:42 with my slowest being 5:55. The conditions that day were much more favorable for running mile repeats than today was.

Considering all of that, even though I was somewhat disappointed in my performance after the workout, it gives me a strong indication I am in great shape leading up to Fargo.

On another note, the Boston Marathon was on Monday, one of my favorite races I've ever done. The US had a great showing with Ryan Hall and Kara Goucher placing third overall in their gender races. Quite possibly the most inspirational team of runners ever, Team Hoyt finished their 27th Boston Marathon and their 1000th career race together. For those who don't know about Team Hoyt, here is a link to a video about them. I also had two UWRF teammates complete their first Boston Marathon on Monday. Both of them ran slower than their qualifying times but at Boston, that's pretty normal. I am hoping to be back in Boston competing again in either 2010 or 2011. After my performance there in 2005, I am still looking for some redemption on that course.

It's going to get wet over the next few days, I hope everyone can get out and get in a good run or two in the rain, always one of my favorite things to do in the spring!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Earth Day Half-Marathon

My final preparation race for the Fargo Marathon was today in St. Cloud. I ran the Earth Day Half-Marathon. It ended up being a pretty good test for me. The weather conditions were pretty good for a longer race like that. It was cloudy, upper 40s, with a light breeze coming out of the north. I stayed the night in St. Cloud so I wouldn't have to get up too early to travel. I was still up early anyway, like I normally am on the morning of a race. After a good warm-up run I was feeling very ready to get in a good race. My goal was to break 1:20:00. My P.R. was at 1:22:42 from almost 3 years ago so I was overdo for breaking that.

The race got started and I was out at a good pace early. I came across the first mile in 5:56, a little quicker than I had wanted but it felt really comfortable. I backed off on my pace a bit anyway because I wanted to try and negative split the second half of the race. At mile 3 I lost 20 seconds on my time because I had to make a pit-stop at a port-a-potty. Usually I don't have that problem in races like this but it was somewhat out of my control. Despite losing that time I was still running pretty strong and I made it through the first 7 miles in the top 15 and feeling well for the most part. On the 8th mile though, my left hamstring began to tighten up for the first time in a couple weeks. My pace slowed as a result of that and I didn't have the ability to push the second half of the race as strongly as I had planned. I maintained my place and was able to bring my pace down to 6:00 for the final 1.1 miles. The finish to the race was great, there were a ton of spectators and the finish line was on the middle of the football field on the SCSU campus. It felt a lot like the finish to a marathon.

I ended up 11th overall and 2nd in the men's 20-24 age group. I ran the race in a new P.R. time of 1:21:50, not as fast as I had been planning for but considering how my body responded I'm fairly happy about it.

There are now only 3 weeks until the marathon. I begin to reduce the mileage slightly next week and then much more the next two weeks. Due to flooding in Fargo, the course for the marathon has been changed drastically. It is now a two-loop course with the entire course staying in Fargo. The original course crossed the Red River into Moorhead, MN and back and it also traveled south of I-94. The two-loop course also stays on the north side of I-94. These are the roads I am also the most familiar with from days of running in Fargo at NDSU.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Feeling Ready

4 weeks away from marathon race day, I have completed two very important workouts over the past two days that have given me a good indication of my fitness level going into the Fargo Marathon. With yesterday being Good Friday, I had the day off of work and took advantage by going home to Coon Rapids and did my interval workout on my home high school track. It was a modified version of the famous Yasso 800s workout. Instead of doing 10x800m, I did 10x1000m the same way. I did this to challenge myself a bit more and to see if my body could take it. I found out yesterday that it could. I averaged 3:24 for the 10x1000m, with my fastest being 3:23 and the slowest being 3:27. I was very consistent and I know it was about where I needed to be to attain the goal of the traditional Yasso 800s workout. Had I done the traditional workout, my 800 splits were between 2:43 and 2:45 for all of them, so based on the workout, that tells me I should be capable of running around 2:45 or just under for the marathon (doing 1000s probably tells me I could have done 2:40-2:43 for just 800s).

Today for a follow-up, I did what will end up being my last 20+ mile run. I did a tour de Coon Rapids, hitting nearly every area of the city this morning. The final distance measured out to be 20.5 miles and I maintained a pace of 7:10 for the run. Considering I was sore from the intervals on Friday I was very happy with it. I stopped only once for water at the Coon Rapids Dam by the Mississippi River (I did not drink from the river though) and took an energy gel there as well.

My final significant test of my training before the tapering begins will be a week from today when I run the Earth Day Half-Marathon (link on the right side). If all goes well, I will be feeling really good about the marathon coming up. I have also posted a list of all the races I have run so far in 2009 and the races I am preliminarily planning to run this summer and next fall. It is just a rough plan and it certainly could change but it is my ideal list of races at this point so far.

For you midwest marathoners, registration for the 2009 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon opens on Friday, April 17th at 12:01am. It fills fast so register as soon as you can. I'll be registering the moment I wake up on Friday morning!

It's finally feeling like spring this Easter weekend. Enjoy the weather and the running but don't forget why we celebrate Easter in the first place. God Bless and Happy Easter everyone!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

T-minus 5 Weeks...

It is now less than 5 weeks until the 2009 Fargo Marathon. It is about this time in my training where the marathon begins to consume my thoughts more and more. I am down to just one more race prior to the marathon, the Earth Day Half-Marathon in two weeks. Yesterday I ran the Bunker Hills 8K in Coon Rapids. I placed 6th overall, in 29:29, nothing fast at all. The course is hilly but I certainly could've been a minute faster or more had my hamstrings not tightened up with about 1.5 miles to go. The trails the race was on are trails I know way too well, so I knew every hill and turn. It just wasn't my day but that's the way things go sometimes. Needless to say, I'm not training for 8K's or even 10K's.

This week will be a short work week for me as there is no school on Good Friday. The WMHS track team has their first track meet of the season on Thursday so I'm excited to see how our runners' training has been going. My workouts for the first half of this week coming up will be pretty easy but the 3 day weekend is going to be a good challenge. I'm hoping with a few easy runs to start the week will give my legs, especially my hamstrings some time to recover and loosen up before the tough workouts come. I decided to take today off (my first in 3 weeks) to see if that will help.

Best of luck to all of those running either the Zumbro 100K or 100 mile this weekend. The weather looks like it will cooperate for you. I will be sleeping while you all get your race started but I certainly am not taking my weekend easy by any means (I just won't be running 62 or 100 miles straight!). Friday's plan is to run 10x1000m on the track between 3:20 and 3:25 (5:20-5:30 mile pace) with equal time recovery. Saturday will be a long run of 20 or 21 miles and Sunday morning will be a tempo workout with a total of 45 minutes of hard running around 10-15 seconds under goal marathon pace. If the legs get the recovery they currently need during the first half of this week, the weekend of workouts will tell me a lot about my fitness and whether or not I am ready for a sub-1:20 half marathon and a sub-2:45 marathon.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Up and Down Week

I am on spring break right now and my training this week has been a little up and down. I had a good long run last Saturday at Elm Creek. I put in just over 18 miles on a nice morning. Since then though, my left hamstring has been feeling a little tight every now and then. My run this morning it was very tight so it was pretty slow going. Since the run it has loosened up nicely and I should be just fine for my run later this afternoon in River Falls. It has been a couple months since I ran in RF so I'm really looking forward to it.

On Saturday, I'm running an 8K race at Bunker Hills Park in Coon Rapids. The park is only a couple miles from the house I grew up in so I know the trails and the course extremely well. It will be fun to race on trails I'm very accustomed to. I ran that race 3 years ago and placed 6th. I wasn't in that great of shape at that time compared to now. This has been my most consistent training I think I have ever had. It's making me very optomistic for the marathon coming up in 5 weeks!

After the race in Coon Rapids I only have one race left prior to the Fargo Marathon and that will be the Earth Day Half-Marathon in St. Cloud, MN on Saturday, April 18th. It has traditionally been a very fast, very competitive half-marathon, often with the top runners easily running under 1:10 for the race. I'm setting my goal at running under 1:20 which would be around a pace of 6:06 per mile, a P.R. in the distance by about 2 and a half minutes. If I can accomplish that and not feel totally dead at the end, I know I'll be ready for a big marathon P.R. in Fargo.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Good, Tiring Test

Yesterday was the annual Human Race on Summit Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota. As the unofficial start to the spring racing season in the Twin Cities, tons of runners came out for what turned out to be a pretty nice day on Summit. The 8K was the road state championship so many top local elite runners were competing. The course on Summit is gradually uphill for most of the first 2 miles, a block turn-around near halfway and the final 1.5 - 2 miles around downhill. And with the wind yesterday, there was a strong headwind on the way out and a very nice tailwind on the way back.

I fared pretty well in my attempt at the doubleheader of running both the 5K and 8K races at the Human Race. I placed 7th overall in the 5K, running 18:03. I negative split the entire race, something I've never done in a 5K before. My first mile was 6:02, slow, as I spent much of that mile breaking the wind for the pack I was in. I felt smooth and strong in my final mile, while trying to not push too hard, knowing I had 5 more miles of racing less than 90 minutes later. Many UWRF teammates were in the 5K race. Jason Quarford won it, Ben Kirmse was second, I was seventh, and 4 other UWRF alum, Matt Olson, Eric Nordgren, Jeremy Olson and Kevin McDonough were not too far behind me.

In the 8K, I tried to pace myself out early, but it was of no use. My first mile in the 8K was 5:52, 10 seconds faster than the 5K. The legs felt okay at that point but miles 2, 3, and 4 were a major challenge. I kept trying to get my legs to go, but there just wasn't any speed there. I managed to close with a 5:42 for the final 0.97 miles, equal to just over 5:50 for the final mile. My time was 30:11, placing 129th overall. I've run much faster in 8Ks before but I've never run one shortly after a decent 5K. The results for the doubleheader haven't been officially posted yet, but looking at the 5K and 8K results, I finished 3rd out of all those that ran both races.

Overall, the day was fun. I was able to get a good reading for where my body is at. I need to keep reminding myself that I'm not training for these distances, I'm training for a marathon. Still, I will be racing again in two weekends in my hometown of Coon Rapids, MN. The annual Bunker Hills Run is run on trails that I have been running on for nearly 10 years, only 2 miles from the house I grew up in. It'll be an 8K race and it will be good to see what I can do over that distance when my legs are fresh.

Until then, the training will continue. I have mile repeats this week and when the weekend arrives I will be on spring break!

Monday, March 16, 2009

What Do You Think About When You Run for 2 Hours?

Many of my students and some of my fellow teachers have asked me this question multiple times now and I finally decided to pay a little more attention to just all the things I think about on a long run this weekend. I ran 18 miles down at the chain of lakes and along Minnehaha Parkway in Minneapolis on Saturday afternoon. Saturday was a beautiful day for a run, a little breezy but couldn't ask for much better.

So, over the course of my hours of running, here is a list of the different things that ran through my mind:

- amazed by the number of people out on the trails around the lakes (tons of them!)
- rethinking my tests I just finished taking (took 2 Praxis tests to renew my teaching license, 4 hours of testing)
- my races coming up: Human Race 5K & 8K doubleheader on Sunday
- Fargo Marathon in less than 2 months
- my girlfriend (who is currently enjoying running in the foothills of the Rockies in Boulder, CO
- my lessons I will be teaching over the next 2 weeks (only 2 weeks until Spring Break!)
- training plans and workouts with the WMHS track team coming up over the next week
- more than anything though, I think about what an amazing gift God has given me to be able to run, and I use my long runs as a way to worship and thank him for that

Needless to say, a lot goes through my mind, especially when I'm all alone on these runs. Towards the end of the run I was beginning to feel some discomfort along the front of my left shin, right where my foot flexes and relaxes. It was still sore yesterday so I took the day off (my first in 3 weeks) and it made the difference. Today, in the beautiful 65 degree sunny weather, I ran for over an hour and it felt really good. This week should be a good one with the warmer weather. I have an interval workout and a hill workout along with the two races at the end of the week.

Enjoy the beautiful spring weather in Minnesota!!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Good Training Week

This week I completed my first 70+ mile week in nearly two years. The legs are feeling pretty good at this point and I had some real good workouts this week. Yesterday I put in 17 miles the day after my first interval workout since September. The interval workout on Friday went well. I ran it in shorts on the WMHS track, doing 6x800m at 2:40-2:50 with equal time recovery. It is called Yasso 800s (see earlier post) and I felt really good about how it went. I ran faster on each interval despite getting wetter and colder with each interval.

I'm looking forward to this week. High school track practice starts tomorrow afternoon. It will be exciting to see what kind of athletes we get out for the team this spring. I have talked to a number of my students who will be out for the team and they are getting excited to get going on the season. The first outdoor meet isn't until the first week of April so we'll have a good amount of time to get the runners in shape for their first meet. I will be running with the team most days of the week but when I run with them it will usually be only the start of my workout because my short runs are now very similar to the high school team's medium to long runs. I might also start doing my main workout early in the AM before school and then put in some easy miles in the afternoon with the team. I haven't decided for sure on that yet but it's certainly a good possibility.

More snow and nasty weather is on its way to Minnesota this week. It wouldn't be the start of track season without it though! Enjoy daylight savings time being back, lighter much later, I'm liking it already!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Blizzard Run on a Shortened Work Day

My planned run for today was to get in between 11 and 13 miles at a normal pace, just putting in some miles. Well, obviously today in Minnesota was not an ideal running day. The snow began to fall in Watertown outside my classroom a little after 10:30 am and the superintendent decided to close school at 11:00 am because of the incoming storm. I spent a grand total of 50 minutes teaching today (I don't teach during 1st period, that is my prep time). In a way, it was great but it was also almost like a waste of the morning because I didn't feel like I accomplished much. The big positive that came out of the day was that I got to drive back to my apartment in Mound before the snow got too heavy. Once back I decided to get my run in right away before the snow got to be too much.

It was a good and bad plan all in one. I avoided the roads and ran on the Dakota Trail which goes right through the center of town and connects St. Bonifacius to Wayzata (about 17-18 miles long). I went west into the wind first until I reached St. Boni and turned around to come back. Just prior to me turning around to come back the wind shifted and the entire run back to my apartment was also into the wind! Not fun. The snow also picked up at that point so I had steadily growing icicles coming off of my eyebrows, eyelashes, and my hat. Despite all of that I completed the run (about 12.5 miles) and felt fairly good about it too. It will set me up good for the rest of the week's workouts. Tempo workout tomorrow after school, long run of 15-16 miles along the Mississippi and on Summit Avenue in St. Paul on Saturday, and a hill workout at Bunker Hills in Coon Rapids on Sunday. I'm looking forward to them and hopefully no more snow!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tough Race, Tough Start to the New Week

Saturday was a tough race to get through. It was a 5K, which is basically a warm-up for me, and the course was covered in fresh snow. Parts of the course had been plowed but much of it had not been so I knew the times would not be fast (which was right). I ran a hard effort without faceplanting in the snow and finished 2nd overall out of about 150 runners. Considering the conditions I was happy with the race. I ran my cool down with the guy who beat me. He actually lives about 10 miles from me and is also training for a spring marathon, Madison (Wisconsin), at the end of May. He's run a couple before with a P.R. of just over 3 hours.

Sunday's run was tough and it was simply because I didn't eat what I normally do prior to a longer run. The food didn't sit well and I was uncomfortable for most of the run, but I maintained a decent pace and got in 14 miles before the sun went down. I ended with 61 miles for the week which I am pretty happy with for it being only February. I'm looking at reaching into the 80s for mileage by late March and into early April and everything is right on track for that. My first significant interval workout is next week, a workout called Yasso 800s. I'll be doing 5-6 of them the first time around. The goal is that 3 to 4 weeks prior to the marathon, you run 10x800 at your goal time (i.e. run the 800 in 3 minutes, 0 seconds if your marathon goal is 3 hours, 0 minutes) with an equal amount of jogging recovery. I'll be doing this workout 3 teams over the next two months, gradually increasing the number of intervals each time.

Anyway, I'm ready for this day to be done. I am currently sitting at the quarterly parent-teacher conferences. I haven't had a parent come by in about 15 minutes, this place is like a ghost town for all the teachers around me right now (kinda nice!). I'm here for 20 more minutes and then my day of 13 hours at school will be done...just in time to start it all over again in less than 10 hours!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Phase 2 Underway

This week marks the start of the 2nd phase of my marathon training for Fargo in May. The 1st phase was primarily just a base training phase, building miles and increasing the endurance. This 2nd phase brings in more marathon pace workouts and hill and interval workouts as well as continuing to increase my longer runs and my overall mileage. Today I ran my first real tempo workout (not counting the Fartlek workouts I've done weekly) and considering I ran most of the tempo pace head-on into a pretty tough chilly wind, the pacing felt good and I felt strong. I didn't push too hard but I know I put in a good effort with the legs definitely feeling a little sore right now.

What will be really interesting will be my 5K road race coming up this weekend. I'll be racing an outdoor 5K in White Bear Lake Saturday morning. It'll simply be a test to see where I'm at. I plan to push myself pretty hard but a February 5K outside can be pretty unpredictable with weather and road conditions. I'm excited to just get out and compete though, it feels like it's been too long.

If all goes well on Saturday, my next race will be the Human Race on March 22nd in St. Paul. I'm planning to run the doubleheader there (5K then 8K). After that, it's a little open but I'm looking at this for a schedule: April 4th: Bunker Hills 8K in Coon Rapids, April 25th: Get in Gear Half-Marathon in Minneapolis, and May 9th: Fargo Marathon.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Fun Day at School!

The weather is finally taking a turn for the better in Minnesota. We hit 35 today, and it felt like 40! But before I got out on my afternoon run, we had a fun event at the end of the school day today. It is Snow Week at WMHS and today was the annual Staff vs. Seniors basketball game. This has been a tradition for over 20 years and I got to be a part of it. I hadn't played much ball in a while so I was unsure of how it would go. I grew up playing basketball before I got into running so it is another love of mine. With me being the youngest teacher in the building and in very good shape compared to most of the other staff members, I basically played the entire game (only 20 minutes). My shots early on were ugly but I managed to put a few baskets in and the Staff ended up winning by 2 at the end! It was a lot of fun to have many of my students cheering for me and I even got to play against some of my students.

Running is a sport that rarely gets publicity or much notice from the average public. My students occasionally hear me talk about my running but they don't ever see it, but they got to see a small taste of it today. A few students came up to me after the game and said, "Wow! You are fast!" I wasn't even running that hard but I almost always beat everyone else down the court. That's just how I always played. Tomorrow will be fun to see some of the other comments I get from my other students about the game.

After the game and the school day ended I got out on a 10.5 mile Fartlek run in the beautiful weather. It felt great and I got warm enough I dumped my headband and gloves 2 miles in. Looking at the weather report, it'll be like that for a week or so now. I am looking forward to it.

Also, there is a new half-marathon race in the Twin Cities beginning this spring. The annual Get In Gear event at Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis is adding a half-marathon to the event. I am leaning towards running this as my final prep race before the Fargo Marathon. The Get In Gear will now have a distance for almost every runner: Half-Marathon, 10K, 5K, and 2K.

Enjoy the warm weather in the midwest this next week, I know I will!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Saturday before Super Sunday

Yesterday, spring made an appearance on the last day of January. 45 degrees and very sunny made for an amazing day to be outside and to get a break from what has so far been a tough winter for running. I had my longest single run since last October's Twin Cities Marathon, just shy of 14.5 miles and it felt great. Running in shorts, long sleeves, sunglasses I got a lot of weird looks from passers-by and got some interesting comments from them as well. Deep down I know it won't last but boy I sure wish it would. After I finish my run this afternoon I will be just shy of 60 miles for the week, a great week considering how busy things have been and I'm hoping that this pace can continue.

Looking back at my past marathon training seasons, this one is already on pace to be the highest mileage training season and my endurance level at this point is already much higher than it's been in quite some time. My goal is to maintain my mileage around 55-65 miles for the next few weeks (doing only 6 runs a week, one-a-day, with one rest day) before I really start to ramp up in mid-February. This is me hoping that over the next few weeks the weather will gradually warm up (next week we're supposed to be in the 20s and 30s!) and stay that way for a while. This is never a guarantee in Minnesota but I'm an optimistic guy and I like to keep hoping.

In March, the high school track season will begin and I will be helping out with my school's track team. My primary role for this spring will be to simply run with the distance runners, do an occasional interval workout with them and cheer them on at the track meets. It'll be interesting to see how my personal training will go with running with the high school team, whether I will need to keep a faster pace, do additional miles myself, or run tempo or interval workouts above and beyond what the team is doing. Since I do want to be a full-time track and cross country coach while still doing my own training and racing, this spring track season will be a great test for me.

Everything in the upper midwest, enjoy this weekend's heat wave. I'm going out for my run and then settling in to enjoy the Super Bowl tonight!

GO CARDINALS! (I'm a diehard Packers fan but I'm also a Coon Rapids Cardinal alum, so the Cardinals have a special place in my heart, at least tonight!)

Friday, January 16, 2009

What a Week

For those of you in Minnesota and the rest of the upper midwest, you know what an interesting week for living it has been here. Having the coldest temps in 5 years (-20s with wind chills into the -40s!) made it a tough week just to step outside, let alone run outside. The one positive that came out of it for me was that school was closed yesterday and we had a 2 hour late start today! With every intention of heading to Lifetime yesterday on my day off to get a good indoor workout in, my car managed to not work and I was stranded at my apartment all day!

With the warmth slowly coming back I got in a good run after school today. Fortunately I had a great workout on Tuesday in the snow that the week hasn't been a total waste. I ran at AT in 2 feet of snow for 30 minutes on Tuesday afternoon. My AT is currently at 185, the highest it has ever been for me. I was tested about two weeks ago for it to start my new training, just so I knew where to base my training off of.

Tomorrow I will be heading back to River Falls for our annual Alumni track meet. I don't know if I'll run any races yet. The longest race they have is 2000 meters, which isn't even a warm-up for me but getting in something quicker would be good for me to do. If nothing else, I'll get in a good run around River Falls with a change of scenery. With nearly 4 months until my next marathon, I'm not worrying too much about racing at this point and if the weather is forcing me to take a day off or at least run inside, now is the time to do it. I hate missing a day, even this early in my training program but I know that it's better I miss a day than to be frostbitten and miss a week or two.

So goes the life of a runner in a Minnesota winter. Happy running all through the rest of January and stay warm!!

- Brandon