Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Not having a ball lately

So I can't resume any training until at least 7/4 due to my recent medical "procedure", so I was laying out whats next on the list of races I have for the summer. I noticed that my next race is the GraniteMan sprint triathlon on 8/6/2011. That only gives me 5 weeks to prep. I should mention that I haven't rode my real bike at all this year (other than the trainer a few times) or swam 1 lap since February. I'm hoping that my marathon training will carry over a little bit, but I'm not entirely worried about it. The rest of this summer's events are for fun only.

The pic below is about as accurate a depiction of how the medical procedure felt  as I could find. I apologize if this is a little graphic, but what can say, the truth hurts. I should have gotten a better health care plan.

Vasectomy Clinic

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Highway 61 Revisited

 The Thursday before Grandma's Marathon my daughter decorated one of my running tanks as I posted previously. I was hoping to wear it for the marathon, but it was going to be chilly last Saturday, but I'll get to that in a minute.

On the way up to Two Harbors MN, along the shore of Lake Superior, where the beginning of Grandma's marathon starts my friend Ryan said, "you know what you should title your post about Grandma's?, Highway 61 revisited". I told him that if I meet my "A" race goal I'd name my next post "Suck It Grandma!", but things being what they were on Saturday, Ryan had a great post title. Thanks dude.

Oh, and if you didn't know, "Highway 61 Revisited" is the name of Bob Dylan's best known albums and also the highway that Grandma's Marathon is run on. Bob Dylan was born in Duluth, MN and lived there until the age of 6 when his family moved to Hibbing MN where he lived until he finished high school.

That's enough of the history lesson already and out of my love/hate relationship with Grandma's Marathon, I decided not to name my post "Suck It Grandma" and rather the aforementioned. Besides, Q on the move said it best, "respect the marathon".

I had several race goals in mind for Grandma's and they were as follows;

A race: sub 3:40
B race: sub 3:45
C race: sub 4:00

But before we get to finish, we have to start at the beginning. This is a marathon race report for crying out loud!

Friday started with a drive up to Monticello MN to meet my friend Ryan where we would take off for Duluth. I was a little early, so his little dude had drawn me a couple pics to take home. Very impressive artwork I must say.
On the way north to Duluth, we stopped in Cloquet at Ryan's brother and sister-in-laws. This is where we would be staying for the night. Ryan's sister-in-law Christina is a runner and hung signs up all over the house for motivation. Below are a few of the ones I liked the best, but all of them were awesome and it was cool to have them everywhere you looked...even the bathroom.

After stopping in Cloquet and dropping off our bags, we went up to Duluth to eat and then go to the expo to pick up our race packets.

Carbing up!

The William A. Irvin ship in front of where we parked at the expo.

Expo crowd. This is also home of the University of MN Duluth Bulldogs,  2011 Division 1 National Champs.
So after getting our race packets and dropping off some used shoes for Soles 4 Souls, we headed back to Cloquet to get a good nights sleep.

Smiles at 5AM? 
The alarm went off 4:30am and we were on the road by 5am. It pretty much rained all night and all the way to Two Harbors.

Apparently the women behind us is not a morning person.
About the time we got off the bus in Two Harbors it had stopped raining...for the most part. We ran into an ex-coworker as we walked to the starting line and it was her first time running Grandma's. It was nice to see her again and we chatted for awhile then wished each other good luck.  We dropped off our sweat bags, got in line for the potta-pots, and by the time we were done with that, it was time to get to our starting spots.  Ryan lined up with the 4:15 pace group and I set my sights on the 3:40 group. I actually was just ahead of the 3:40 pacer and only had to wait about 10 minutes before the start. I was chilly at the start, but still ditched the "throw-way" shirt before the starting horn of the train went off. Soon after the start, I was happy that I took off the "throw-away" shirt and warmed up quickly. The wind was at our backs and it sprinkled a little during the first few miles, but never rained very hard.  The wind however did blow off the lake pretty steady.
I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I tend to start out too fast and this was no exception. I was hoping to "bank" a few minutes over the course of the first 20 miles and this plan worked...to a degree.
I started off really good and actually passed the 3:30 pacer. I didn't think much about it at the time, but was really going waaaayyyy to fast. I got to the half way mark in 1:44:51 (8:00/mile pace) and was running along with the 3:30 pace group at this point. I was already about 5 minutes ahead of schedule and was thinking I could just slowly lessen my pace and still get done in under 3:40.
At mile 16 I started to feel my first signs of trouble. My legs were starting to fatigue and doubt started to creep into my mind. I started to try and not think about it and just slow my pace a bit. I also noticed that more and more people were starting to pass me. Now I knew this would happen, but it's not very good on the psyche regardless. I hadn't planned on being that far ahead of schedule and didn't have a plan B to try and cope with this.
By the time I got to the 20 mile mark I was actually getting cold. I was still ahead of schedule (2:45, 8:15/mile) , but I knew the next 6.2 miles was going to hurt. I was hoping that once I got into the city of Duluth I would warm up. My thinking was that the buildings and trees along the boulevard would  block the wind, but I really think the wind was "swirling" in town and at times I was running into it. My shirt was wet with sweat and now I was starting to get colder. Now is the time the wheels started coming off.
The last split I recall taking was at mile 22, 3:03+ (8:19/mile), and was still on track to get in under 3:40, but I was hurting real bad and was so cold that I would have given one of my children for a warm dry sweatshirt at this point. Shortly before this, a women came up next to me and chatted a bit. I told her that if the 3:40 pace group passed me I'd start to cry. I was kidding (sort of) and was ready to be done. Somewhere around mile 23, the 3:40 pace group passed me and I was dejected (and still cold). I passed the last few water stops and made the left turn towards Canal Park. This went down hill and I made my last effort to get in under 3:45. There a few turns in Canal Park  and now we are right on Lake Superior. On a few short straight-aways we were running straight into the wind and I actually walked. I made the right turn by the William A. Irvin (see pic above), looped around and ran (it felt like I was running anyway) to the finish line.  3:47:56.
Duluth Lift Bridge. Grandma's Saloon is just to the right.
I got done, got my medal, shirt, and mylar blanket and sat on the curb. I was soooo cold. I was actually shaking. I went and got my sweat bag and headed to the changing tent. I sat inside and tried to warm up, but my hands were shaking so much I could barely text my wife. I changed into a dry t-shirt and put on a hooded sweatshirt and thought I should get something more to eat and drink. I grabbed a bagel and chocolate milk and found a spot to sit and watch for my friend Ryan to come in (see pic above).  I must have missed him come it, but found him in the family meet up area a few minutes later. We went to get his sweat bag and while waiting in line Ryan gave me the gloves he got from his sister-in-law as my finger tip was bluish purple in color. We caught the bus back to the hotel we parked at that morning and then went back to Cloquet to clean up for the ride home. We got the stink of 26.2 miles off of us and then went to get lunch before we drove 3.5 hours home. We each ate a pizza the size of a steering wheel and drove home.
It was nice have some time to talk to an old friend for 3+ hours in the car. Outside of a few emails and an occasional phone call, we don't get uninterrupted time together to just talk about any and everything and that really means a lot to me.

When I got home, I found the following signs hung up around the house and it reminded me that race results don't mean anything compared to the love of my family.

The following day was Fathers Day and we went to the Childrens Museum in St. Paul. It was a nice way to end the weekend.  

I didn't reach my "A" race goal or even my "B" race goal, but I learned a lot and can't wait to do another marathon. 3:47:56 is a marathon PR and I'll take it!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Pre-Race Grandma's Marathon

Ryan on the right and me. Who smiles at 5AM on a Saturday?

I've taken a few days to digest Saturdays marathon and will share my race report and more pics in a few days. Until then, I'd like to thank Christina and Jason (Ryan's brother and sister-in-law) who live in Cloquet (about 20 minutes from Duluth) and graciously let us stay at their home the night before the race. They even gave us beds to sleep in so we got a good nights sleep!

P.S. Christina, you're going to rock the Whistlestop half marathon!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Ra-Ra! and Grandma's Marathon!

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.
It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning a lion wakes up.
It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle.
When the sun comes up, you better start running.

I'm sure all of you have read that before, but I thought it was appropriate considering tomorrows marathon. Prior to the race tomorrow, I'll have to go to the expo today and get my race bib and I thought I would make a donation of some shoes. Anyone who know's me, know's that I'm not a big "Ra-Ra!" kind of guy and I'm a terrible fundraiser, but this is a no-brainer. Donate some shoes that I don't wear and they will be given to people who need them. If you think of it, do the same at your next race. Easy Peazy Lemon Squeezy!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

2 days or 48 hours or 2880 minutes or 172,800 seconds ...

until Grandma's Marathon!  My 4 year old decorated my new running tank and I think she did a fine job.  I'll be proud to wear this on Saturday morning as my wife and daughters won't be there, but I'll be thinking of them the whole way.

Go Daddy Go Run Fast! Jesa, Harper, Mommy.

In case I forget my own name.
My little artist
 Also, I got an early Fathers Day gift, a Road Id! Now if they find me on the side of the road delirious  and speaking gibberish, they'll know who to call.  Nothing says love like being able to positively identify a body. I'm kidding of course, I love it and everyone should have one.
Early Fathers Day gift.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Prairie Pursuit 5K/10K

Last Saturday we went back to the in-laws for the community picnic. Although the logo doesn't indicate it, there is also a 10K run as well. This is my wife's hometown and we were back visiting for the local town "celebration". They have the ususal small town fun stuff; softball tourney, bar fights, wet t-shirt contests, parade, street dance, kids fun races, and a 5K and 10K race. I didn't fully commit to running it until the morning of the race and my wife and I went into town and signed up about 10 minutes before the start.
To give you an idea of how small this town is, the race had to run north out of town for about a half mile, then east for 3/4 of a mile, and then back another half mile. The rest of the race was zig zagging through the mean streets of Chokio. If than doesn't give you an idea of how small the town is, the 2011 graduating class had 12 people...total. That's right, the entire senior class consisted of 12 people!
In any case, it was a lot of fun as there was only a couple dozen people combined in the 5K and 10K and to say it was a relaxed atmosphere would be an understatement.
I finished the 10K in 46:20 and was actually the overall winner. I've never won a race (unless outrunning the cops after snowballing cars when I was 15 counts) and it was kind of fun to be chased...by someone not carrying a gun.

Also, my wife did outstanding and exceeded her own expectations. She beat her time from last year by 8 minutes! Great job Dear and we're going to rock Ragnar!

3 days until Grandma's and the weather looks decent; chance of rain and temps in the 50's.


Monday, June 13, 2011

18 Weeks

So here it is, 18 weeks of training in one post. To save myself a lot of typing, I'm going to list the weekly mileage totals that my training plan had and the total mileage I completed. 

         Training plan weekly total             Completed weekly total
  1.              19                                                    16
  2.              18                                                    19.7
  3.              22                                                    20.1
  4.              21                                                    19.5
  5.              28                                                    26.5
  6.              29                                                    24.5
  7.              33                                                    28
  8.              30                                                    29
  9.              38                                                    34.5
  10.           33-38                                                  26.2
  11.              41                                                    34.5
  12.              39                                                    37.4
  13.              44                                                    33.2
  14.            33-36                                                 30
  15.              44                                                    36
  16.              37                                                    32
  17.              26                                                    23
  18.           Race Week!
So you'll notice right away that only one time did I reach the weekly mileage total. The main reason for this was that I almost never ran on Saturdays and when I did, I didn't run on Sunday. The training plan usually had 4 miles scheduled for Saturdays, but I needed one weekend day off, so I usually skipped the Saturday run. The longest weekday run I did was just under 6 miles as I did them all on my lunch break. I never once got up early before work and ran the 7-8 miles called for on my training schedule and I'm OK with that. I think it sort of helped me as I made sure to maximize my time and not just put in the miles for the sake of putting in the miles. I feel like I worked harder at running some of my 5 mile routes than I did in 2009 running a 6-7 mile run.  In 2009 I put in longer weekday runs, but would skimp on my long weekend runs which I feel really hurt me more than I realized.
I will say that with the exception of my first 20 miler (I did 16 miles before stopping because I "tweaked" my knee) I completed all my long runs. It was my main training goal this year to make sure I really worked on hammering out the long runs and I think I did that...for the most part.
I don't know if I would recommend this training plan for everyone, but it really worked for me and my schedule, but it does have you running 6 days a week.

Anyway, this is kind of boring, so I'll stop.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Thursday, June 9, 2011


I thought I would quickly share a picture of the exit sign I see everyday on my way to work. The overpass that I was on when I took the picture is on one of the running routes I take at lunch and I thought today was an appropriate day to share. Because of the date of course...

Just so you know, my wife is aware that I'm very juvenile.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

T-Minus 10 Days!

I've shared my goals, I've ran my last "long" run, I've listed the advantages of 2011 vs. 2009. Now it's time to wait...or as Hal Higdon calls it, taper. It actually comes at a good time as I've had a little cold the last few days and haven't been 100%. My girls have had colds too and sleep hasn't been the greatest lately in our household.
To keep my focus and not let my mind go crazy thinking about Grandma's marathon on 6/18, I will review my training log of the last 18 weeks and share my highs and lows. Until then, here's a few pics from Grandma's 2009.

Shortly after the marathon in canal park.

Lift bridge in canal park where the race ends. You can see this from about mile 15. 

This was a few weeks before the marathon, but I always like this pic.

My biggest little fan. 

Checking out Lake Superior the day after the race (Fathers Day 2009).

2 of my 3 gals!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I like Dicks...

Sporting goods. My oldest daughter and I went there to pick a couple things on Saturday. I got some new socks, hat, and running tank. The hat and socks I've been using are the same ones I had when I ran Grandma's in 2009. So I was due for an update.

In other new... I got my last double digit run in this morning. 15 miles in 2:02 for an 8:08/mile pace. I needed a good confidence boosting run of significant distance prior to Grandma's and this was my last chance. I felt pretty good from start to finish and given the humidity, I think I nailed it. It was also nice to have my last long run in my stomping grounds.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Goals for Grandma's Marathon

So in one of my previous posts I indicated that I would share my goals for Grandma's Marathon in an ABC format, so here they are.... 

Csub 4 hours. My current PR is 4:04 at the Chicago Marathon in 2009, so I really don't care if its 3:59:59, but under 4 hours is the business of the day.

B: sub 3:45. Now this would put me in the neighborhood of my older brother. He's run the Chicago Marathon 3 times and two of those times he finished 3:43 and 3:44 respectively. This is also important to me because my brother is a former Marine, currently a Phy Ed teacher, and a track coach. He's also about 5'10" 170 lbs and can eat what ever the hell he wants and won't add a pound. Me, I'm 5'6"  150 lbs and I have to watch what I eat a lot more closely than him. Prior to me running, I tipped the scale at close to 200 lbs, so I run to help manage my weight. Besides, who doesn't want to beat their big brother.
The other advantage of running a sub 3:45 marathon is that I would qualify for field 1 of the Pikes Peak Marathon and I would like to run that some day and this would give me 3 years of qualification.

A: sub 3:40.  No dreams of grandeur about qualifying for Boston (I'd need a 3:15 to BQ!), but finishing in the 3:30's somewhere would blow my mind. I think I have it in me and I'll work real hard to achieve this, but certainly won't be disappointed if I come up short of this goal. Mars would have to align with Venus, the moon would have to be full (it won't be, I checked, the closest full moon in 6/15) and the weather would need to be perfect. 
Also, my older brother's best marathon time was 3:32 and if I came even close to that, I would be tickled. Besides, he did that 10 years  ago and was 30 years old at time and I'm 36 now. 

Now before some of you start thinking "wow, this guy really wants to beat his brother", I will say that it's not my main motivation, but I recognize that it's there. My overall goal is to have fun and see what I'm capable to pushing myself to do, but getting close to one of my big brother's marathon time would just be icing on the cake. He makes running look easy and doesn't seem to work to hard at it. I think he could qualify for Boston if he really wanted to and part of me wants to get close to his times to prove to him that if I can run as fast as him, then he can definitely run faster. Besides, I don't think that he'd like if his little (former cigarette smoking, tobacco chewing, beer drinking, overweight, better looking, smarter) brother got close to his times.

Chicago Marathon 2009

post-race Chicago Marathon 2009

Lastly, I wanted to list a few advantages I have this year as opposed to 2009;
  • I'll be about 10 lbs lighter. In 2009, I was about 160 lbs. 
  • Faster (well duh), but I think working on my 5K speed early in the year really made a difference in my overall speed and that's something I never worked on before. 
  • Focus. In 2009 I did my first outdoor tri 3 weeks after Grandma's and wasn't completely focused on just the marathon. This year (although I did an indoor tri in Feb) I've solely worked on running. 
  •  Time. And by that I mean I have less of it now than I did in 2009. I have 2 kids now (4.5 yr old and a 13 month old) and making the most of my training time is vital. So I don't "dick around" and do junk miles, I have very specific daily workouts that all have meaning. I don't have time to waste!
I am super anxious to run Grandma's Marathon this year and I'm glad to be sharing it with my good friend Ryan (who arranged for us to crash at his brother's the night before the race, thanks dude!). Who knows, maybe It'll become an annual tradition. I am sad however that I won't have my girls waiting for me at the finish line this year. This is kind of a guys weekend, although we'll be driving home shortly after the race and will be home in time for Father's Day. 
post-race Grandma's Marathon 2009