December 19, 2008


Seems like we've been having some "nose hair awareness" weather lately, so I've been sticking to the treadmill. Not only because of weather, but my heel is still sore after Surf the Murph and I want to get that healed completely before ramping up miles and/or hills in preparation for Chippewa (it will be here sooner than we all think)! By running on the hamster wheel, I can stop at any time if the heel starts complaining. My longest run since Murph has only been 4 miles, and I'm a little bummed that the bursitis hasn't calmed down by now :(

As far as how my other short term goals are going: I haven't been sticking with the 1600 calorie diet 5 days/week (more like 2). Summit curls have not been dropped from my routine, which probably is a major contributing factor to >1600 cal/day on some days. Strength training is going well! Cross training is going pretty well, but high intensity cardio really hasn't happened on a regular basis. Gotta get that darn heel fixed (priority #1).

Stopped by TC Running Company this morning to get some new road shoes (Mizuno Wave Rider 12)! It's always fun getting new kicks - this version seems to have a slightly lower profile than the 11, so I'm looking forward to giving them a spin. Didn't see Kurt, but got to chat with owner Adam for a little bit. If anyone in the Twin Cities is looking for a good running shoe store where the folks know their stuff, I highly recommend this one!

Forecast is for snow snow snow, so I may take the snowshoes out for their first tromp of the season tomorrow. It will be nice just to get out in the woods :) That ought to get me in the Christmas spirit!

Hope everyone is enjoying our winter wonderland!

November 29, 2008

Down Time

Haven't had much to say about running lately, so I haven't been keeping up with the blog. The last few weeks have been down time as far as running goes - only some short spurts (ie about 3 miles at a time) on the treadmill since Surf the Murph. The bursitis is improving, but still noticable. I also managed to catch a little bug that was going around, so I've been a slug lately.

Been busy watching the current space shuttle mission (STS-126), which is coming to a close after 2+ weeks. Never get sick of looking at the pictures of Earth from space. I could post lots of stuff about the mission, but...this is a trail running blog ;)

Photo courtesy of NASA

Also been loading up the Ipod with some tunes to get through running on the hamster wheel over the winter. Some of my recent additions:

Cities Sampler - Vol 20. Awesome 2 disc acoustic set that typically sells out within minutes the day it goes on sale.
Tom Morello aka The Nightwatchman - Fabled City. Rage Against the Machine guitarist who displays his more acoustic side as The Nightwatchman.
My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges.
The Verve - Forth. A Storm In Heaven is still my favorite disc of theirs, but this one is pretty good too.
Ray Lamontagne - Gossip In the Grain. I like his first disc Trouble the best, but this is also a great listen.
Amos Lee - Last Days at the Lodge.
Coldplay - Viva LaVida.
Joe Henry (yeah, he's Madonna's cousin) - Trampoline.

Hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving!

November 7, 2008

Toughest Kid in the World

I feel a little silly complaining about some minor bursitis when I think about Nick Nelson.

November 6, 2008

Off Season Plans

Now that the trail racing season has wrapped up, it's time to start thinking about next year. I have some preliminary races in my head that I want to do for sure: Chippewa, Superior, Afton, Moose Mountain, and Wild Duluth. I'm sure others will fill in, such as Runnin' in the Ruff, Chester Woods, and In Yan Teopa. Before that, however, I need to decide on my goals for the off season, and how they will play into next season's races.

So, from now until mid-January:

R & R - but just for a week or two.
It's been a long, wonderful trail running season and I hope to still get out for an occasional fat ass run. But right now my left heel is still sore (self diagnosis = retrocalcaneal bursitis), so I need to let that heal up. I think I'll also need some new trail shoes, as I suspect that may be most of the culprit for this particular issue. And I need a mental break, so active rest (basically just doing activities for FUN rather than a specific purpose) is on the menu for the next couple of weeks.

Lose 5-10 lbs of fat.
This is actually more vague than it should be: 5 lbs is more realistic, but since I'm not overweight (I just weigh more than I ever have - thank you perimenopause), I will still be at a healthy weight whether I lose 0, 5, or 10 lbs. I will accomplish this by:

a) limiting caloric intake to 1600 +/- 100 calories per day, 5 days per week.
b) engaging in more high intensity cardio intervals (anaerobic 1x/week as well as aerobic 1x/week) to increase exercise post oxygen consumption (EPOC).
c) maintaining strength training 2-3x per week. I may combine some of this with the anerobic intervals.
d) still doing some moderate intensity aerobic exercise including cross training (running, snow shoeing, rowing, biking, stair stepping) 2-3x/week.
e) dropping the bicep curls with Summit Extra Pale Ale from my routine.

Improve flexibility.
I am about as flexible as a redwood. As trees go, redwoods are pretty pliable, but.... I am not a tree. I will accomplish this by:

a) Self myofascial release using a biofoam roller. I have 2 of them, so I can do it in my living room every day if I choose to. No excuses!
b) Yoga sounds more interesting to me than static stretching, but I don't really want to drive to the gym in the evening to get into a class (and the class schedules change frequently). I see myself sticking to this more successfully if I do it in my living room in the evening as a relaxation thing immediately following the self myofascial release. In reality, it will probably be static stretching (or the PNF stretches that I can do myself without a partner) rather than yoga most of the time, but I've gotta start doing something. Preferrably most days of the week.

Correct muscle imbalances.
We've all got 'em and I am no exception. I'll accomlish this by:

a) doing a musculoskeletal assessment on myself to dial things in more precisely and monitor how what I've been doing has been working. Good thing I do this for a living, so I know exactly what I need to do.
b) Now I just have to do it more regularly ;)

Maintain a running base.
...even if it's minimal, so that I can jump in to my planned run training schedule beginning in mid-January in preparation for the Chippewa Moraine 50K in April. Up until then, most of my running will be at an easy pace and probably under 10 miles/run depending on how the heel and knees are feeling. I have a vague idea of what my Chippewa training schedule will be once we get to mid-Jan, but will not solidify it until assessments tell me what my strengths/weaknesses are at that time. Since I am historically weakest with strength endurance, I feel pretty confident that there will be lots of hills in my future.

Enjoy the offseason!

November 1, 2008

Surf the Murph 25K

What a perfect morning for a trail run! Crystal clear skies with stars twinkling, no wind, temps in the mid-30's, frost on the grass. Got up at 5 am to make it to the trailhead for the start - about 60+ people showed up for the first "official" Surf the Murph 25/50K races (there was a fat ass last year). Bonnie and Donny wheel measured and marked the course, and Donny mentioned that he planted some animals in the woods. We lined up in the dark with head lamps and flashlights for the 7 am start, then off we went into the woods for either 2 or 4 laps of the 8-ish mile course.

It was pitch black at the start of the race, so everyone was pretty laid back with their pace. The wide trails made it easy to pass or run side by side with another runner. The first 4 miles were pretty hilly - some were steep and had loose gravel, kinda like Afton. Then we got to the previously locked gates and finally got to sample the south end of the park. [As it turns out, hikers are apparently welcome on all of the trails and the closure signs are primarily to keep horses and 4 wheelers out of certain areas of the park. They still don't want folks trespassing during nesting season for the rare bird seems like the park staff could do a much better job of marking/explaining the trail closures, especially if they apply only to certain modes of travel (ie horse, bike, ATV, or feet)]. The south end was much gentler, although there were some sandy and/or rocky bits. Nice little piece of single track shortly after the 5.5 mile aid station - I think that was probably my favorite part of the course.

I ended up running a liesurely pace with Wayne for the entire 25K distance, then he continued on for another 2 laps. It's nice to have company during longish runs - makes the hours and miles fly by! We saw 2 white tail deer bound across the trail directly in front of us, then a pair of wild turkeys later in the day. Thanks for the animals Donny ;)

My finish time for the 25K was one of my slowest, but I really didn't care. I wasn't pushing at all - just enjoying a great morning in the woods. I'm glad I didn't continue with the 50K as my left heel was getting pretty sore. Not sure what that's about - perhaps it's time for some new shoes.

Thanks to RD Les & Cindy and all of the volunteers for a great event in a beautiful park! I hope to be back with my snow shoes in a couple of months!

October 28, 2008

Change of Plans

As much as I'd hoped to pull off my first ultra this fall, I've decided to cut back to the 25K distance at Surf the Murph this weekend. Mainly because of lackluster training since Moose Mountain and a jam packed schedule this Saturday - and I want to be able to attend and enjoy ALL of my Saturday events!

And, frankly, I'm a little mentally burned out.

See you on the trail....

October 25, 2008

2008 MN Trail Run Series Revisited

I did it. I shot the moon and ran all 12 of the 2008 MN Trail Run Series races along with Wayne, Jim, and John. What a whirlwind it was! It seems like just a few weeks ago we were all lined up at the early spring races, wondering how to dress for the weather while tromping through snow and mud. Then heat and humidity. Now tripping over rocks and roots covered by leaf litter. I thought it would be fun to think back about some of the highlights from each race:

Trail Mix - I was so excited to see my running buddies after a long winter of slogging on the hamster wheel! We were gathering for the start, all wondering how to dress for the 40ish degree temps on a cloudy, windy day. Most of us decided on shorts, and we all had pasty white legs ;)

Runnin' In the Ruff - Two things really stand out about this one: the ankle deep shoe stealing mud with knee deep water on top of it, and running directly under a bald eagle nest with both parents present. A very windy day - all of us were huddled together on one side of the picnic shelter waiting for the awards and door prizes. Keith scored some home made chocolate pecan bark, Wayne got a martini mix, and Kate got the coveted pink garden hose. Oh, and Steve suffered the first of what would turn out to be a long string of injuries by rolling his ankle.

Superior 25K - Beautiful double rainbow over Lake Superior the evening before the race. Race day was very windy, and there were A LOT of blown down trees on the course - one of which I became stuck on. A few days later, one of the Lutsen condos that some runners stayed in burned to the ground.

Chester Woods - Man, I have never run in a down pour like the one that occurred during this race! It was so dark in the woods I felt like I needed a flashlight, and I had to keep tugging my water logged shorts back up before they fell off. The Burma Shave signs and post race dill pickles were fun, and legendary running coach Segred Levert stuck around to chat 'til the very end.

Sour Grapes - I ended up being in a sour mood for Sour Grapes since my neighbors had an all night party the night before and I didn't sleep. At. All. This was the race where I learned who the 4 runners who were trying to "shoot the moon" were - Wayne, Jim, and John in addition to myself.

Afton - Last year's run was my first trail race, so I had a time to beat. And I didn't, even though I felt like I ran much stronger. Bummer.

SMU Trail Scamper - What a fun little low key race! Just the 4 of us "moon shooters" and the first time I saw Adam all season - Jim and Adam both won age group awards. Put on by the SMU student athletes, they had a last minute land dispute which forced them to change the course from a 4 mile to a 5K just a few days prior to the race. I'm glad I didn't know about the timber rattlers that were on the course until after the race.

Days of Old Track and Trail - really fun trail when we finally got to the trail - unfortunately that was only about half of the race while the other half was running on dirt roads or along the shoulder of a highway to get to the trail. Lots of UMTR folks showed up for this one, so it was a fun social event.

Moose Mountain Marathon - This was the one I was looking forward to all season. It didn't disappoint, even though the trail seemed to be overrun by bees. An awesome race held on one of the most beautiful trails on Earth. Did I mention the bees?

Mpls Trail Loppet - With all of the trails in Wirth Park, I was hoping to run on more dirt rather than busted up concrete, old asphalt, or a sidewalk parallel to a freeway.

In Yan Teopa - I'd done this one last year too, so I had another time to beat. This time I did it. Very pretty run! Jim gave us a little scare by taking a scenic detour to get to the race and almost lost his bid for shooting the moon.

Big Woods - The final race of the series! Wish I had a picture of the sunrise in the dense fog - it was surreal. Another very pretty run through rolling, open woods with nice fall colors.

Thanks to those who shared the trail with me during this epic journey. What a ride!

October 18, 2008

Big Woods Half Marathon

The final race of the 2008 MN Trail Run Series is in the books! Today was the Big Woods Half Marathon that was run (mostly) in Nerstrand State Park, on a picture perfect fall day.

Got up early and headed down for the race in thick fog - the sunrise was surreal. Race headquarters were located at a church about a mile from the park, and the place was buzzing with runners and lots of cheerful volunteers. Got the table set up to recruit more members to the awesome Upper Midwest Trail Runners club and then got ready to line up for the start next to the cemetary. It was a cool morning - mid 30's at start time - and the fog was starting to burn off and give way to abundant sunshine.

The half marathon and 10K runners started together, and there were A LOT of us! The first mile was run on a paved road to get to the park, then we were off into the woods! I had no idea how many aid stations there would be (or where), so I opted to bring the Nathan vest instead of a hand held. As it turns out, there were several aid stations serving water and Gatoraid, the first at about mile 1, so a hand held would have been fine.

Soon after entering the woods, the 10K and half marathon runners parted ways. The half marathon course was billed as a hilly run, but other than a couple of noticable hills I found it to be rather flat. My garmin measured only 2136 feet of total elevation gain/loss for the entire 13.1 miles.

Very pretty course through open woods, the trail twisted and turned over gently rolling terrain. I had my camera tucked into my Nathan vest and was hoping to get some pictures of peak fall colors, but we were about a week too late. Lots of leaves on the ground which covered the roots - I saw more people take diggers during this race than any other all season! Someone must have gotten dinged up because a 4 wheeler pulling a rescue cart passed us on the trail.

I felt like I was making good progress for about the first 6 miles, then was starting to feel a little crampy. My hands were also swelling, so I took some Endurolytes. I had decided that since it was cool (and I'd had all summer to get acclimated to heat, which also results in more efficient sodium retention), Endurolytes would be sufficient rather than S caps. Big mistake! I was also noticing a blister forming on the ball of my right foot even though I've been wearing the same shoe/sock combo for more than a year. WTF? Wayne passed me around this time, and I had to start slowing to a walk for most of the uphills - even the gentle ones - to avoid cramping. More meandering through the twisting trail, then up one of the noteworthy hills with the "cheer leader of the year" shouting encouragement to all of the runners.

Popped out onto a gravel road where we had to do a little loop up and around a cone before trotting back for another short section in the woods. Finally we returned to the paved road for the last mile back to the church. There was a pretty stiff headwind by now - I hadn't noticed the wind at all in the woods. The ol' feet and legs were feeling a little crampy, so my progress was way slower than it should have been and I was getting passed by several people. I kept thinking that I am in big trouble with a 50K on the schedule in just 2 weeks and I'm limping in for a half marathon!

Finally got to the finish and met up with the usual cast of characters for the post race chat. We had a sit down lunch with soup, bread, cookies, bananas and oranges at the church - tomato vegetable soup never tasted so good!

Special thanks and congrats to RD Mark Bongers and ALL of the many, many, cheerful volunteers that helped to put on a great race!

October 11, 2008

Murphy Hanrehan


Those of you who run at Murphy Hanrehan on a regular basis.... where exactly do you manage to run without being turned back by closed trails? Last weekend I decided to give the Surf the Murph course a try, only to find a locked gate and "trail closed for your safety" sign at marker #8. This was only 3.7 miles into a loop that is supposed to be 7.75 miles long. I ended up having to cut back to the start for 5.5 miles (which brought up a question with another trail runner as to the actual length of the official course loop). All of the other trails to the south end of the park were also closed, which meant that I was stuck with a very short loop at the north end.

Today, I decided I would try to get 3-4 laps of the 5.5 loop in for 15-20ish miles on a beautiful fall day. Nope! Today, the gates were locked so that I couldn't even get to marker #4, resulting in an extremely short loop of less than 3 miles. Then I realized that the water to the drinking fountain had been turned off for the season, so my single hand held was all I had. Dayam! Decided to drive to the horse trail parking lot and try to get the south end of the course loop in, but the parking area was already overflowing. Seriously thought about driving to Afton to do my own little hill workout at Nigel's and Campground, but eastbound I-494 was closed for road construction.

Bottom line: I ended up with a 3 mile run instead of 15-20 in preparation for a 50K in 3 weeks, and haven't run more than 10 since Moose. Crap.

On a happy note, today's short run was gorgeous, and I really would like to know where the open trails at Murphy are ;)

October 2, 2008

Surf the Murph and Other Stuff

As if running all 12 races in the 2008 Minnesota Trail Run Series wasn't enough, I decided to tug on the Big Girl Panties and ante up for my first ultra - Surf the Murph 50K at Murphy Hanrehan park on Nov 1. It will be 4 loops of the following:

Surf the Murph Course Map

I'll need to do a somewhat respectable time in order to finish the race, go home, shower, grab whatever potluck thingy I need to bring to the first annual Upper Midwest Trail Runners awards fest, and drive to Hastings for the party. November 1 will be a busy day!

Also in November - the release of the Cities 97 Sampler! This year will be a double disc and I got the set list yesterday.

Good luck to all who are running in the Twin Cities Marathon this weekend! After you've pounded yourselves into oblivion on the pavement, come and join us in the dirt for some real fun ;)

September 27, 2008

In Yan Teopa 10 Mile

Eleven down, 1 race to go in the 2008 Minnesota Trail Run Series! Today's race was the In Yan Teopa 10 mile at Frontenac State Park. Wish I had brought my camera along - this is a beautiful park located among the steep bluffs along the St. Croix River south of Red Wing. The course is mostly gently rolling, non-technical trail in open terrain with a couple of steep, noteworthy climbs through singletrack in the woods. The fall colors are just starting to turn - it will be spectacular in a couple of weeks!

Met up with the usual gang at the start, but noticed that someone was missing. There are 4 of us attempting to complete all 12 races in the MN Trail Run Series, and Jim gave us a scare by being uncharacteristically fashionably late ;) After taking a scenic detour to get to the race, he somehow managed to drive 80 miles in an hours time to make it to the start line just as we were all heading down the trail. We half joked about camping at Nerstrand the night before the Big Woods Half Marathon just to make sure we make it to all 12 races. Half joked.

Much of the first half of the race is on wide grassy gently rolling trails in open terrain. Nice to have wider trails especially at the beginning so that people don't get too bunched up. I was feeling pretty good early on and tried to settle in to a comfortable pace. It seemed like there was a lot of downhill grade for the first few miles, which we would have to make up for later ;) Came to the first of several road crossings (I didn't remember that many road crossings before) and soon we were at the first of 3 aid stations. I had a hand held so I just ran through the first aid station and continued on. More wide grassy trail, but a little flatter now. I was grateful that the skies were remaining overcast, as I was starting to notice the high humidity. Took an S Cap and a Clif Shot shortly before coming in to the second aid station just past the half way point.

The second half of the course is more difficult (read: uphill) and also has more singletrack through the woods. I was starting to feel overheated from the high humidity, so it was nice to catch the breeze every now and then. My pace was starting to slow a bit, probably from the uphill grades in addition to feeling hot. A few wide switchbacks up to more singletrack, then the really steep switchbacks with lots of stairs leading up to the third aid station at the top of the bluff. By now, my hamstrings were threatening to cramp, so I had to slow down a bit. Topped off the handheld with water and headed out for the last few miles.

More gently rolling hills in open terrain - the sun was starting to pop through the clouds and I was really feeling hot even though the temp was only about 70. Still feeling like my hamstrings were going to cramp any time we came to an uphill grade, so I was walking even the gentle uphills. Took another S cap and kept going. One or two people passed me before we got to my favorite section of the course - the winding singletrack in the woods just before the finish. Finally popped out of the woods and trotted into the finish just in time for the awards ceremony.

I had originally planned on running the course a second time to get a 20 mile run in, but there was no way that was going to happen with the way my legs were feeling. I had also forgotten my Nathan vest at home, where it was loaded with water and gels ready to go. Oh well.

Thanks again to RD Larry & Colleen and their awesome volunteers for putting on another great event! I will have to pull my weight next year by doing some volunteer work at races instead of running all of them :)

September 20, 2008

Mpls Trail Loppet 5K

I must confess, when I decided to attempt to run all 12 races in the Minnesota Trail Run Series, the Trail Loppet 5K in Wirth Park really didn't sound all that interesting to me. It was scheduled just 2 weeks after Moose Mountain Marathon, which is primarily why we chose the 5K for the 10'th race of the series rather than their flagship half marathon. Moose Mountain was my "big" race this year (and on my favorite trail to boot), so in addition to needing a little recovery time, everything else afterwards seems a little bit of a let down.

Woke up to a hazy morning and drove the short distance to Wirth Park in Minneapolis. The weather was shaping up to be beautiful for a short hop through the woods - low 60's, a little humid, sunshine, and no wind. Met up with many of the usual cast of characters: Jim, Wayne, John, Kate, Brook, Steve, and Lisa - all except Wayne were running the shorter distance.

The 5K basically covered the same trail as the first few miles of the half marathon, which started only 10 minutes later. This did result in a few log jams on the narrow single track portions of the trail as the front runners in the half marathon caught up to the slower 5K runners. The beginning of the course was basically a wider asphalt trail that has seen some better days, which led up a short hill and then over broken concrete slabs in front of the building where we picked up our race packets. I thought this was supposed to be a trail race?

We finally got into some single track with a few very short technical sections. Very short. Then it was out onto grass and running past a school, back into the woods and along a power line section [nothing like the infamous power lines of Voyageur ;)], and more short sections of single track. The course then popped out onto a sidewalk which ran alongside a road bordering Wirth Park, then back onto asphalt pretty much the rest of the way to the finish.

There seemed to be a pretty good turn out for both events, and I believe the proceeds benefit the City of Lakes Nordic Ski Foundation. If you've never tried trail running before, this would be a fun way to get your feet wet and see what it's like to run in the dirt, especially since you can compare it to asphalt and concrete all in the same race! Personally, I would have preferred more running on dirt trails instead of the pavement, but it was still a great day to be out in the woods with my buddies :)

Looking forward to a nice 10 miler in beautiful Frontenac State Park next weekend!

September 12, 2008

Hat Tip

RD Larry & Colleen

When races are run well, it's easy to forget the countless hours of hard work done by dozens of people who work behind the scenes to make the event what it is. They do their jobs so well that they become invisible to the folks who are out enjoying the trail. We forget that someone had to design the logo for the race, get shirts/hats/mugs/brochures/etc. printed and distributed, get trophys/medals/buckles made, secure permits/permission from land owners to run on any given trail that particular day, get permits or make reservations to use certain rooms or buildings for "race headquarters" during the event, make up the goody bags and pre-race packets, secure sponsors, hang banners, get timing equipment and set it up, market the race, arrange for medical/first aid, enlist ham radio operators, buy food and prepare it for the aid stations, recruit volunteers to work aid stations, mark and sweep the course, get runners registered (early and at the last minute), post results, arrange for catering post race food, lug the awards down to the finish line and distribute them to the winners, and clean up the mess after everyone else has left. I'm sure there are several other jobs that I've forgotten to mention.

Here is a tip of the hat to the volunteers who work behind the scenes so the rest of us can have some fun on the trail! The pictures I have happen to be from the Superior fall races, but this hat tip is for anyone who has ever volunteered to work an event. And if you haven't done it yourself, you should ;)
Just a few of the folks to thank for an awesome gathering at the fall Superior Trail Races:
Temperance Aid Station
Tettagouche Aid Station
Sawbill/Britton Peak Aid Station
Cramer Road Aid Station
Silver Bay Aid Station
Oberg Aid Station
Marathon check in crew, who also served as... ...the finish line crew.
Thank you all volunteers! Our great trail races wouldn't be nearly as awesome without you!

September 7, 2008

Moose Mountain Marathon

Short Version:

This is the only marathon I have ever run where I needed to use my hands.

In 26.2 miles, my Garmin showed 10,923 total vertical feet of elevation gain/loss with the steepest pitch up Carlton Peak being an 89.8% grade.

Long Version:

I managed to get out of the Twin Cities by late Friday morning, which allowed me to stop by the Silver Bay and Tettagouche aid stations later that day to check on my buddies who were running the Sawtooth 100 miler. I think I was actually more excited about their race than my own, especially since it was the first attempt at 100 miles for several of them! It was fun to catch a glimpse of several of them coming through the aid stations and hear how they were doing. I eventually got to Lutsen for packet pick up and the pre-race meeting before stuffing myself with pasta and hitting the sack.

Got up early Saturday to catch the bus to the start - it was perfect weather - slightly overcast and about 50 degrees. Looked like there had been a little rain overnight, but the skies appeared to be clearing. Anywhere on the Superior Hiking Trail is one of my favorite places on Earth, so I was getting excited to get going!

Finally arrived at Cramer Road for the start of the race and got lined up with Wayne and Jim. Larry said "Go!" and we were off on a 1.2 mile loop before heading past the Cramer Rd aid station and down the trail. I had never run this section of SHT before, so really wasn't sure what to expect as far as difficulty. Some said there was a monster climb, others thought it wasn't too bad. I don't remember any long or difficult climbs, but I had fresh legs at this point. Very pretty run past Fredenburg Creek, which was flowing more than some of the rivers! There were quite a few of us running together at this point, kind of like a freight train rolling through the woods.

We arrived at the first aid station (Temperance) 8 miles later and I realized that I hadn't been drinking nearly as much water as I should have. That's one of the problems that I have using a Nathan or CamelBak - I can't tell how much I've been drinking. Decided that I needed to pay more attention to my pre-race plan of 1 S cap every hour, 1 Clif shot gel every hour, and drinking at least 1.5 liters of Heed between aid stations.

The section between Temperance and Sawbill is very pretty and very runnable for about 2 miles up until reaching Carlton Peak. The trail runs parallel to the Temperance River on one side, crosses over it, then begins to climb a bit before hitting the steep rocky section up Carlton Peak.

During this section I had my first encounter with the bees that had already plagued other runners and got stung just above the knee. Dang! I made a mental note of the time since I tend to swell more than the average person, and I'd seen Molly at the Silver Bay aid station just after she returned from the clinic as a result of a bad allergic reaction to a bee sting the day before.

Oh well, nothing I can do about it now - time to climb Carlton Peak and keep moving toward the Sawbill aid station. The volunteers there had some stuff to help take the stinging sensation away, and mentioned that lots of other people had also been stung.

I seemed to waste a lot of time in the aid station, and finally headed back out onto the trail. Shortly after leaving, I encountered another swarm of bees. Thankfully the trail here was relatively easy, so I was able to sprint ahead to get away from the swarm without getting stung again.

The section between Sawbill and Oberg is probably the easiest section of the SHT I've ever travelled - nice open forest and the trail is not so steep, rooty, or rocky compared to the rest. The trail gradually dropped down to a good sized pond and I passed a beaver lodge, but didn't see any resident beavers. A pair of runners caught up to me and asked how I was faring with the bees. They had both been stung too!

Getting close to the Oberg parking lot, I heard the buzzing of yet another swarm of bees. Managed to find another gear to elude the swarm and just kept charging toward the final aid station at Oberg. Just 7.1 miles to the finish now.

After spending too much time in the aid station, I finally headed out to get up and over the last 3 hills and settle a score with one particular blown down tree on top of Moose Mountain. (As it turns out, I'm not the only one who had an issue with that tree last spring, right Barb)? I got past Oberg Mountain and Rollins Creek in good shape, and the long steep ascent of Moose began. This final section is probably the most difficult for the marathon course, and the climb up Moose at this point in the game can be a doozy. I'll be darned if I didn't hear the buzzing of another swarm of bees! I knew I couldn't sprint all the way up Moose Mountain, but I was able to go far enough to get away from the bees one last time.

After reaching the ridge top without any drama, I realized that my tree had been cleared from the trail and it was clear sailing! At least until it was time to come down the other side, at which point my knees were screaming during the steep descent. I think it took longer for me to get down Moose than to go up!

Now there was just the long jog that everyone forgets about: up and over Mystery Mountain. It is not nearly as steep or technical as Moose, but it seems to last forever! Finally, I could hear the rushing water of the Poplar River - almost home now!

Popped out onto the gravel road and jogged home to the finish at Caribou Highlands. Larry was waiting at the finish to congratulate me and give me my finishers trophy. He was also curious as to whether I'd seen any of the 50 milers since they were running a new, more difficult course this year and none of them had finished yet. Nope, I hadn't!

It was fun catching up with everyone at the finish - had to find out how the 50 and 100 milers were doing and how everyone else's run went. A few of us agreed that the marathon seemed easier than the Superior 25K back in May, perhaps because the blown down trees had been cleared and we'd had all summer to run hills ;)

I can't thank the volunteers enough for everything they did so that the rest of us could play in the woods during the bee/wasp/hornet convention. Perhaps I'll save that for a separate post.

August 30, 2008

Last Dance Before Moose

Today was my last trail run before heading up the Shore for the Moose Mountain Marathon (aka kiddie fun run) this Friday. Headed out to Hyland Lake where I saw more people running the trails than ever before - except during Trail Mix. Did about 10K on most of the Trail Mix course (cut out the loop towards Richardson and the ski hill). Also did a strength training workout for the upper body before running.

I had a pretty horrendous week as far as training goes. Work has been extremely busy (a good thing), but has left me exhausted after pulling 12 hour shifts every day. Only ran once (4 miles yesterday) since my Afton run last weekend. Hope to get a short tempo run in early this week as well as a short easy run or two. Perhaps a barefoot hike too. Then a day or two off.

Hope to get out of the Twin Cities late Friday morning and perhaps catch a glimpse of my 100 miler buddies at one of the aid stations on the way up to Lutsen. They start their journey Friday morning: while I'm at work, they will be running. When I'm eating lunch, they will be running. When I'm driving 5+ hours up to the pre-race meeting and packet pick up, they will be running. When I'm stuffing myself with pasta the evening before my race, they will be running. When I'm sleeping, they will be running. When I get up in the morning and have a pre-race breakfast, they will be running. When I get on the bus to get shuttled to the start of the marathon, they will be running. When I finally get started on my own journey, they will still be running. I will probably have a chance to share the trail with a few of them when we'll all be running.

Now you know why the marathon seems like a kiddie fun run ;)

Best wishes to all Superior trail runners next weekend!

August 23, 2008

Afton Again

Headed out to Afton again today for another round of hills. The goal for today was to get about 12 miles of hard hill work in before beginning a serious taper for Moose Mountain 2 weeks away.

After a very busy and sleep deprived week, I slept in this morning :) Stopped by the gym on my way out to Afton for a quick upper body strength training workout, then successfully bypassed REI without stopping in for their Labor Day Sale. It was past 10:30 when I finally pulled into the lot at Afton, just in time to see Matt as he was finishing up for the day. I'm pretty sure I saw Steve's car in the lot too, and it was still there when I finished (with a bottle of vitamin water on the windshield), but I never did meet up with him on the trail.

I did the same hill loop as last week, except only 2 laps. Turned out to be 11.7 miles, which felt pretty good! Today was my last pass through the blackberry patch for the year, though there may still be a few good ones next weekend for anyone heading out. Saw a wild turkey family on the trail (didn't get chased this time), and instead of buzzards circling there were bald eagles soaring. Definately a step in the right direction!

August 17, 2008

Hill Repeats at Afton

Headed out to Afton this morning for more snake hoppin', berry munchin', and hill runnin' as planned. Goal was to get a good 20 mile run of solid hills before beginning to taper a bit for Moose Mountain. I ended up starting the 25K loop in the forward direction, but chose to create a smaller loop so that I could emphasize running hills rather than the flatter terrain (ie Africa Loop and the long, flat, straight stretch that runs parallel to the St. Croix River towards Meat Grinder).

My loop included the run up to the Africa Loop, but rather than run the loop I made a right turn at the top and took the usual trail back down to the start of Nigel's Hill. Then ran Nigel's and the Campground loop as usual. This would allow me to refill my water bottle (Nathan vest) as well as hit the blackberry patch on each loop ;) Repeat 2 more times. For my fourth and final loop, I left off the quick trip up to Africa and just did Nigel's and Campround Hills.

Met up with Karen Gall as I was heading down the flat stretch from Nigel's to my last run up to the Campground. It was nice to have some company after almost 5 hours of hill running! We visited the berry patch up in the campground one more time before heading back to the parking lot. Karen was kind enough to slow to my pace rather than run her own workout - thanks Karen!
Total tally for the day:

20.78 miles
total elevation = 8823 vertical feet
average pace was just under 15 min miles (although the later miles were much slower than the early miles)

Consumed 4 liters of Heed, 4 Clif Shot gels, 5 S caps during the run, and some Endurox R4 immediately afterwards. My pre and post race weights were the same (I think that may be a first for a run this long)! I still start feeling a little queasy after drinking Heed for a few hours, but have found that eating crystallized ginger helps to settle my stomach.

Only 1 buzzard showed up while I was at the top of Nigel's Hill on my last loop, but he wasn't very persistant. Today's workout felt better than my 17+ miler 2 weeks ago, even though I was up late watching the Olympics and tossing back a few Summit Extra Pale Ales.

I'm tired and my knees ache, but I think I'm going to sleep pretty good tonight ;)

August 16, 2008

Days of Old Track and Trail 10K

I had planned on using today's "race" as an easy 6 mile trot in preparation for a grueling 20 miles of hill repeats at Afton tomorrow. Not sure why, but the run didn't feel all that easy. Makes me a little nervous about being able to pull off one more good long hill workout before Moose Mountain in 3 weeks.

Beautiful morning for doing anything outside! Got to Maple Lake High School in plenty of time to check in and socialize with the gang. Lots of folks in the MN Trail Run Series showed up for this one - a few of which I hadn't seen in awhile :) This is a pretty small and laid back race, so it was nice to have a few more folks than usual since the proceeds benefit the high school's cross country and track teams.

We started out on a paved road for a short distance before turning onto a dirt road. We probably ran at least a mile and a half before reaching a park where the actual trails began. Very nice run through the woods - non-technical trails with a few small ups and downs, but fairly flat (at least compared to most of the other trail races I've run). After the trail loop, we doubled back on the dirt and paved roads to finish near the softball field on the high school campus. Given the easy nature of the course and the pace I was running, it felt tougher than it should have. Oh well - I'll recover by watching more Olympic coverage on TV today.

Thanks to all of the volunteers who came out to support the runners!

August 15, 2008

Weekend Running Plans

Tomorrow is race number 8 of the 12 in the Minnesota Trail Run Series - this one being a 10K in Maple Lake. I'll be using it as an easy 6 mile run so that I can be rested for...

...hill repeats at Afton on Sunday. Lots of hill repeats. Planning on getting 20 miles of hills in preparation for Moose Mountain Marathon (race #9 in the series), then start tapering a bit. Hopefully there will still be a few blackberries on the bushes! If you want to join me, I'll be sticking mainly with Nigel's and Campground hills.

Don't mind the buzzards circling ;)

August 10, 2008


After getting my butt whipped at Afton last weekend, I decided that I really needed to test myself on more rugged terrain, similar to what I'll be facing during the Moose Mountain Marathon in (gulp) less than 4 weeks. Didn't have time to go all the way up the Shore, so I decided to try the Duluth section of the Superior Hiking Trail. I'd gotten some great feedback from Andy Holak about the rockiest, rootiest sections of the Duluth trails and headed up for a day trip yesterday. This would give me a chance to test my foot (about 99% healed) on rougher stuff as well as try out my new Nathan hydration vest (reviewed here).

The plan was to park at the Magney Snively trail head, do an out and back to Munger for 8.6 miles, resupply at my aid station (car), then do another out and back to Spirit Mountain to get 15 miles total. Unfortunately, I was late getting out of the Twin Cities and ended up just doing the first half.

The trail here started out to be pretty smooth - several patches of rocks here and there, everything covered in pine needles, gently rolling rather than the steep, rocky, rooty climbs that I associate with SHT. This is actually a really fun little piece of running, and I found myself grinning like a village idiot going through this section. Definately a different flavor compared to the SHT further up the North Shore. There are several overlooks of the canals and city of Duluth. Gradually came out to an exposed section of rock that reminded me of the level loop on top of Oberg Mountain near Lutsen. From here you can see Ely's Peak, which is the photo at the top of the page.

Lots of wild flowers in bloom right now - very pretty run.

Once I got to Ely's Peak, things got much bumpier.

Since this is an exposed section without many trees, the familiar blue blazes are painted on the rocks. Steep rocky climbs (use of hands is highly recommended in places) - this was more what I was looking for!

Unfortunately, this bit was rather short, and about a half mile later the trail popped out on the paved Munger trail for the last 0.4 miles to the Munger parking area. Headed back the way I came and enjoyed the open views once again.

Back into the open woods for my fun running section. I have named this section of the trail "Joyride" because it's just so flippin' fun!

Preceived effort for this run was: easy. All in all, I was hoping for more steep climbs as I think that's my weakest link right now. Ely's Peak definately fills the bill, but it's very short. And the shorter drive to Duluth vs Lutsen/Tofte is still 5 hours round trip (and $30 gas money). I'll probably spend the rest of my training time doing hill repeats out at Afton, Hyland ski hill, or RTA in prep for Moose Mountain.

Even though I didn't accomplish my training goals, I'm not sorry I went up to run this section. It was nice to try a new trail, and to catch yourself smiling while running through the North Woods is a good thing.

August 9, 2008

Running Paraphenalia

As I was getting ready to head out for my long run one morning this week, I had to chuckle about what I was putting into my pockets - and what that would look like to a non-trail runner:

4 small baggies with pre-measured amounts of white powder (Heed).
1 small baggie labeled "S" containing 4-5 capsules filled with an off white powder (S caps).
1 small baggie labeled "E" containing even more capsules, slightly larger than those in the "S" bag, also containing an off white powder (Endurolytes).
1 small baggie containing several yellowish small rock-like chunks dusted with a white powder (crystallized ginger).

Honest, Officer. I'm just going out for a long run through the woods. Really.

August 2, 2008

Buzzard Magnet

After much deliberation, I decided to stick around town and do some hill work out at Afton today. Got out there a little late (10:00 am) and started out with the usual - the 25K race loop in the forward direction. The plan was to get 16-18 miles total with some added emphasis on hills.

Be careful what you wish for.

I decided that the Africa Loop and the Back 40 would be a nice 10K warm up before attempting multiple repeats of Nigel's & Campground Hills. Part of the logic for this was to delay having to do too many repeats of Nigel's & Campground, there is a solar powered water pump at the top of the Campground so I could carry a hand held rather than the Camelback, and I really wanted to check the blackberry patch on the top of Africa. Alrighty then!

Temps were in the mid-70's, approaching 80, and I calculated that I should probably consume at least 2 bottles of Heed during the Africa/Back 40 loop. Not happening with a single hand held, but I figured I'd be able to make up for it as soon as I got up to the Campground. Was sweating like a pig! Felt reasonably good, and was taking 1 S cap/hour as well as 1 Clif Shot.

Africa started out pretty uneventful. So was the Back 40. Got back up to the Africa Loop right near the big blackberry patch. There were a couple of people deep into the patch, but all of the bushes I could see had nothing more than green berries. A few just starting to turn pink - nothing even remotely ripe. (The smaller patch in the campground had a few ripe ones - next weekend should be prime)!

It was at this point that I think I had my highest heart rate reading of the day - at a time that I was barely moving. Focusing all of my attention on the berry patch, I wasn't paying attention to the ground. Just as I was in mid-stride to start running further down the trail, I heard an odd vibrating sound. Looked down just in time to see that I was about to step on a large brown snake that was coiled and rattling it's tail. Crikey! I was able to jump over the snake and run several feet down the trail. After swallowing to get my heart out of my throat and back into my chest, I just had to come back and take a closer look. Turned out to be a fox snake pretending to be a big kahuna. Cheeky little bugger - he was still coiled and rattling even when I went back. With his tail in the dry grass, it sounded like it could have been a rattle snake.

By the time I got down to the river, my water bottle was bone dry. Decided to head up Campground Hill in the reverse direction to get to the water pump and tank up. Down the other side, then back up Campground Hill in the forward direction. Did 2 more loops of Nigel's Hill & Campground Hill, then headed for the barn. I hardly ran at all my last loop, and was really dragging up that last repeat to the campground.

Totals for the day:
17+ miles with Africa Loop x 1, Back 40 x 1, Campground Hill x 4, Nigel's Hill x 2, and a pathetic climb back up to the visitor's center. Total elevation according to Garmin was 14,400 vertical feet total, but I don't buy it. I'm guessing it was closer to half that.

Perceived effort:
Afton handed me my ass today. After only 17-18 miles. Since the Superior Hiking Trail is more difficult, Moose Mountain Marathon is shaping up to be a death march. Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks so: as I got back to my car in the parking lot I looked up to see about a half dozen buzzards circling. Again.

July 30, 2008

Weekend Plans

Decisions, decisions - what to do for a training run this weekend. I'd like to get in something in the 16-18 mile range on trails to prepare for you know what.

Here are the options that I'm currently considering:

Matt is planning on another overnight 100K fat ass at Afton Friday night. I've never tried night running, don't need to in order to prepare for my upcoming races, but it sounds like it'd be fun! It's also relatively close by and running at night would avoid the mid-90 temps, high humidity, and poor air quality that is being predicted for the Twin Towns this weekend. I would also be able to check on the blackberry patch, which is probably coming in to nice form ;)

Do a day trip up to Jay Cooke and run around on the trails there. Or part of the Duluth section of the Superior Hiking Trail. Anyone know if those trails are similar to the Moose Mountain course (ie steep, rocky, and rooty)? It would probably be a little cooler near Duluth than here in town, and it would be fun to run on new trails (new for me anyway). I really need to think about doing Voyageur one of these years...

Grab the tent, head up the North Shore, and plunk down an out and back from Cramer Rd to Temperance and back. That would cover the first section of the actual marathon course - a section I've never done before. Not sure I want to spend that much time driving (and buying gas) this weekend though.

Any suggestions?

July 26, 2008

SMU Trail Scamper

The 7'th of 12 races in the 2008 Minnesota Trail Run Series was held this morning in Winona - a planned 4 miler down at St. Mary's University to benefit their cross country teams. It ended up being a 5K because of a land dispute between the university and a private owner, which undoubtedly gave the race director some extra head aches as this all came to light just a week prior to the race.

Got up at 5 am to make the 2.5 hour drive down to Winona in time for the 9 am start. Beautiful morning! Kinda hazy, with the sun coming up like a huge pink ball that gradually gave way to orange, then yellow. SMU is located on a small but very pretty campus - the steep bluffs of south eastern Minnesota are one of my favorite parts of the state, second only to the North Shore of Lake Superior. I was curious to know just how steep these trails were going to be!

Met the usual cast of characters before the race: Wayne, Jim, and John - the 4 of us are attempting to "shoot the moon" and do all 12 races in the series. Adam got there early and put in some double digit miles as a warm up before the 5K. The course turned out to be relatively tame: no steep hills, wide non-technical trails with great footing, great weather. This would be a perfect beginners race for those who are interested in trying trail running!

Hung out for awhile afterwards enjoying the morning while the race staff struggled with getting results together. Jim and Adam both scored some hardware for top 3 times in their age group! Lots of young cross country runners made the younger age groups very competitive - there were a few speed balls out there this morning ;)

Congrats to the student athletes from St. Mary's University who put the whole event together and pulled it off. I'm sure they gained some great experience and a new appreciation for what goes on behind the scenes to put on the races that we all enjoy. Hopefully the land dispute won't disrupt their cross country season!

July 20, 2008


<- A little of this....

<- to get ready for that

Recognizing that I'm going to need to be able to haul my carcass up and down some substantial hills for an extended period of time in less than 2 months, the big decision today was where to run: RTA or Afton. I chose to give Adam's hill loop at RTA a try - this would be a new workout on a few trails I hadn't yet seen.

Slept in and putzed around this morning, so I didn't get to RTA until after 11:00 am. Only 1 other car in the lot - never saw another person on the trails for the entire time I was there. Weather was warm - not overly hot or humid. Bugs weren't bad either!

I'd printed out a map along with Adam's comments about the loop and I was glad I did. The first hill is straight forward, and I'd been to RTA enough that I knew exactly where it was even before I got there. That must be an awesome sledding hill in the winter!

The second hill trail was just a little tricky to pick up after you pop out onto the asphalt, and I don't think I'd have found it if Adam's instructions hadn't been so clear. If you look carefully, there is a blue blaze on a tree marking where the trail continues into the trees from the asphalt. At times the trail can be a little hard to follow, but there are some orange markers on trees to help keep you on track. Wonder who put the blue blazes and orange tape there ;)

The third hill is probably the easiest and very simple to find and follow. Mini-Moose is also straightforward, but now has wood chips and railroad ties - along with a bench about half way up that can be tempting (but illegal for trail runners IMHO).

Jackhammer might be my favorite - very nice single track that runs parallel to a currently dry stream. Very pretty scenery in this stretch of open woods!

The sixth and final hill is the steepest (35% grade according to my Garmin) and most technical. Route finding can be a little tricky here too - some orange markers help keep you on track.

I ended up doing 2 laps for a total of 5 miles and was literally dripping wet by the end. Drank 40 oz of Heed, 16 oz water, 2 Endurolytes, and still ended up a pound lighter than what I started. I must be getting acclimated to the heat since I hardly had any Na at all and didn't cramp or have hand swelling. Progress.

July 19, 2008

Busy Week

It's been a very busy week work wise - had some trouble getting running in on many days. The good thing that came out of this is that my foot is about 95% back to normal! The bad thing is that Moose Mountain is looming large, and I don't feel even remotely prepared.

Sun - a very short 40 minutes at Hyland, but managed to fit the goat track up the back side of the ski hill in. That's my favorite part of Hyland - the rest is kinda blah.
Mon - strength training
Tues - loooooonnggg work day - no training
Weds - 2 mile tempo run
Thur - strength training
Fri - bike
Sat - 6+ miles at Bredesen

Hoping to get a longer trail run in tomorrow - trying to decide between Afton and RTA. Definately need some hill work and time on my feet to get ready for Superior. My longest run so far this year has only been 25K a few times, so I really need to start cranking up the miles and hoping my foot doesn't retaliate. Yikes!

July 13, 2008

Temperance River

I shot this video of the Temperance River when I was up the North Shore for the spring Superior races this past May. Can't wait to get back there again in less than 2 months for the Moose Mountain Marathon!

July 8, 2008

Sports Nutrition

With all the talk about hydration, sweat rate, electrolytes, carbo loading, etc. I decided to put together a spreadsheet to help sort everything out. Dug out about a half dozen sports nutrition books and my old notes from graduate school and made some calculators that determine:

*sweat rate
*fluid intake needed during exercise
*daily macronutrient intakes (carbohydrate, protein, fat) in grams and calories based on average number hours/training/day
*daily total calories based on avg hours training/day
*grams CHO (carbohydrate) needed during carbo loading up to 6 days pre-event
*grams CHO needed 1-4 hours prior to event
*grams CHO needed during event
*grams of CHO and protein needed during recovery (within 30 min of finish up 'til next full meal)
*list of supplements and what's in them (there's plenty of space for you to add more)

This is still a work in progress and has limitations:

*My hydration calculator does not take into account water losses from respiration or urination (who measures how many ounces they pee in the woods?).
*The macronutrient calculators are for ENDURANCE athletes, not strength/power/hypertrophy athletes.
*The total caloric needs are based on maintaining body weight, not weight loss or gain.

Once you've plunked in your body weight and gotten all of the grams and calories of each macronutrient you need, you have to be able to measure what you are actually consuming. I use and recommend FitDay, a nutrition tracking software that can be used for free (online version). You can also download a dirt cheap version that has a few more features, and you can add your own foods to the database.

Let the calculating begin!

July 6, 2008

Afton 25K Race Report

The Afton 25K Trail Race officially marks my one year anniversary of trail running! Last year's run was my first trail race ever - in 100 degree heat - and I was hooked! With my relative inexperience trail running, I typically have no idea what to expect as far as pace or finish time because the terrain of each course is so different. This was the first race where I actually had last year's "time to beat" while running the same course.

The weather was great - probably in the low 70's when we started. Certainly more comfortable than last year! The first several miles through the Africa Loop, Back 40, more Africa Loop, and down to the third aid station felt great! I was trying to keep up with my hydration strategy, but was falling a little behind. I kept to the plan of an S cap every hour starting at the 30 minute mark and a Clif Shot at 1 and 2 hours into the run. Just couldn't chug the Heed as much as I'd originally planned, and my stomach was starting to feel a little "off".

By the time I got to the top of Nigel's hill, my foot and knees were feeling pretty sore. WTF? I expected the tendonitis in my foot to act up a little, but the knees haven't been this sore since my alpine ski racing days. Down Nigel's, then up and over the top of the Campground Hill. I actually stopped to pee at the top of the campground, so I figured I would be fine drinking less Heed than anticipated.

After the Campground Hill comes the long, flat, easy trail that runs parallel to the St. Croix River. I don't know why I dread this section - it should be viewed as a gift on a course as hilly and challenging as Afton - but it feels like a death march even though it's only 1+ miles in length.

Going up Meat Grinder, I realized that my lack of conditioning was catching up to me. My legs were starting to run out of gas, my stomach was feeling bloated, I was having side stitches, but my foot and knees were feeling better. Reaching the last aid station, I dawdled a little and ate a few orange slices. Refilled the water bottle with Heed for the last time and headed off for the final 3 miles.

The Snow Shoe loop is probably my favorite section of the course. I like single track through the woods, and this is a fun little trail. Eve came flying past me somewhere in this section and broke her own course record for the 50K. She is amazing! By now I was having some trouble with my calves cramping on the uphills and had to slow down to a walk through much of this section. I think my cramping problems this time were simply fatigue rather than dehydration or electrolyte imbalances. My hands weren't swollen at all, but my stomach was still feeling yucky. Man, I was hoping I wouldn't do the good ol' yawn in technicolor!

Finally popped out of the woods for the short little jaunt to the finish line. By now even running on flat terrain was causing my calves to cramp, so I basically limped home. I was pretty disappointed to see that my final time was about 15 minutes slower than last year :( I knew that I was deconditioned since I'd been laying low to rest my foot, but I felt like I was running faster than last year's super heated version. Oh well - I've got a vendetta for next year ;)

Special thanks to RD John and his awesome crew of volunteers! This is one of the best run races anywhere, and it takes a small army to pull off putting on such a quality event. The t-shirts and finishers medals are awesome, as were the awards. Congrats John and Afton crew!

My post race ritual involved icing my foot, eating pizza, drinking beer (needed to get a bicep workout in), and watching Running On the Sun - a documentary about the Badwater 135 mile run from Death Valley to the top of Mt. Whitney. Highly recommended viewing, not so sure about running it ;)

Today my foot is a little sore and stiff, but doing well enough that I think I can start trying to get some miles in. Only 2 months 'til Moose Mountain, so I've gotta get my muscle endurance up!

June 30, 2008

Sweat Rate

I think I've finally figured out a reasonable strategy for fluid and electrolyte replacement!

Lately I've been anal retentive about documenting my pre and post run weight, fluid intake, electrolyte intake, etc. As it turns out, I've only been drinking about half of what I should be, which can be a BIG contributor to muscle cramping. I've been somewhat reluctant to gulp down lots of fluids because: a) fear of hyponatremia, especially being a salty sweater, b) I don't want an upset/sloshing stomach while running, c) I never needed that much fluid during road runs, d) most of the peer reviewed literature suggests that it's best to be a little dehydrated than overhydrated, and e) I don't want to be pissing like a race horse during a trail run.

Last weekend at Afton, I calculated my sweat rate to be 2.25 lbs/hour, meaning I need to drink 36 oz of fluid/hour to maintain my body weight (I only drank 32 oz for the 2 hours I was out there - less than half of what I should have). I also took 1 S cap/hour and didn't have any problems with cramping or hand swelling.

Today at Hyland, my sweat rate was 2.1 lbs/hour, meaning I need to drink 33-34 oz fluid to maintain (I drank 16 oz/hr + 1 S cap). Pretty close to what I'd expect compared to Afton, especially since Hyland is easier terrain to run on.

Game plan for Saturday at Afton = 36 oz HEED/hour + 1 S cap/hour, which works out to about 400 mg Na/hour (recommended range is 200-500 mg Na/hr) and 21 mg K/hour (recommended range is 20-50 mg K/hr).

If I cramp up this time, it will most likely be because of muscle fatigue due to deconditioning rather than dehydration or electrolyte imbalance. And the cramping will most likely take place in the grass that is taller than I am on the snowshoe loop. I hope I don't get lost.... ;)

June 28, 2008

Checkin' In

Hard to believe that the Fourth of July and the Afton 25K is next week already! Check out the awesome awards and shirts that Afton RD John designed! Sign up for what always proves to be an awesome race ;)

I've been forced to lay low on the running front after my 9 miler at Afton last weekend. The tendonitis in my foot has proven to be pretty stubborn, so I've been doing more strength training and biking. I even had to bail on a power hike after only 1.6 miles at RTA last Monday, and stopped after only 2 miles at Bredesen Thursday because of my foot. Now I'm hoping just to survive Afton and Moose Mountain :(

Signed up for the Mpls Trail Loppet 5K this morning - it is one of the MN Trail Run Series races in September. The entry fees go up after June 30, so if you're planning on running it for sure, register this weekend and save a little $.

Hope you are all having an awesome weekend!

June 22, 2008

Welcome to Summer

Finally! Beautiful weather for the first official weekend of summer! I spent Saturday running at Afton for the first time since last fall. Did about 9 miles on the Africa Loop, Back 40, Nigel's Hill (down only - I'll explain in a minute), and the Campground Hill. Goals for this run were to see how my foot would do on steeper hills, and to try out another electrolyte combination. Also wanted to wait until later in the day to run so that I can start getting acclimated to hot weather (last year's race was 100 degrees with 90+% humidity).

I had intended to do the first half of the 25K race course and even had the map with me, but missed the right turn at the lean to shelter near the end of the Africa Loop. Instead of heading back down the steep hill to the third aid station, I ended up going straight ahead and arriving at the top of the hill near the backpack campground. Just turned left and headed down Nigel's hill, then back up the Campground Hill as usual. As I was picking my way down the Campground Hill, Steve was making his way back up for God knows how many hill repeats. These are pretty steep hills, and the loose gravel can make them kinda slippery - almost like running on marbles - especially on the way down.

My run was more of a lolligag than a training run - stopped to watch deer a couple of times, had to check out the black berry patch on the Africa Loop (still blossoms on the bushes), helped a tourist figure out how to get down to the river, etc. I'm also pleased to report that the water pump in the campground is currently working :)

According to Garmin, my 9 mile run had an elevation gain of +1637 feet and -1634 feet, max grade was 29.7% on the hills, and my post run weight was 2.5 lbs lighter than my pre run weight even though I drank 40 oz of fluids and took 2 S caps.

My foot is a little sore today, so instead of running I did some weight lifting and biking. Hope to get this tendonitis cleared up soon - I'm getting a little worried about not being able to put in decent miles for Moose Mountain.

By the way, Zombie Runner has a coupon code ZRTRAILS that's good for 10% off your order - not sure when it expires, but it worked for me this morning.

Hope everyone who ran Grandma's had a great time! Can't wait to hear all of the race reports...

June 18, 2008

Spendy Sport

One of my running goals for this year is to "Shoot the Moon" and run all 12 of the MN Trail Race Series runs. It's getting spendy!

My foot has been sore again after the drive home from Sour Grapes - did a 2 miler yesterday and 4 today.

Hope to get a trail run in at Afton this weekend - probably stick mostly to the Africa Loop to test the foot. Or maybe head to RTA since it's closer to home and will use less gas to get there ;)

June 15, 2008

Sour Grapes Race Report


No, the race wasn't boring. My thoughtful neighbors decided to have a "Friday the 13'th" party Friday night, but apparently they forgot that Friday the 13'th ended at midnight. The hootin' and hollerin' finally subsided at 4:30 am on Saturday. My alarm was set for 4:45 to get up and drive to Brainerd for the Sour Grapes Half Marathon, another race in the MN Trail Run Series.

After a few sprinkles in the Twin Cities, the skies cleared and it was a beautiful, cool, sunny morning by the time I got to the Northland Arboretum in Brainerd. I wore my day glow orange Superior race shirt, so Jim and Wayne found me easily. Actually, Jim had his on too - we were easy to spot :) The 3 of us are trying to "shoot the moon" and run all 12 races in the MN Trail Run Series - I didn't see any other "regulars" that I knew.

We lined up along side the 10K runners for a mass start, and off we went onto the wide trails of the arboretum. The course is basically a 10K loop that the half marathoners run twice, plus a little bonus loop. My main goal for this race was to experiment with a new electrolyte replacement strategy since I've been having problems with cramping (results are here). Jim said his strategy was to start out slow, then taper ;)

The race was extremely well organized and the course was well marked. There was a "central" aid station that we kept passing as we looped along the maze of trails, so you would hit the same aid station from a different direction every couple of miles. Since I was carrying my own recipe, I didn't even stop at the aid stations except once to refill my bottle - nice way to save time.

The course itself was run on wide trails - probably old logging roads. A few bumps, but pretty flat and sandy. There were some nice long stretches in the woods mixed in with some gently rolling sections of more open terrain. It was hot in the sun, but there was a nice cool breeze and bugs weren't a problem. No technical running at all, and my foot didn't bother me during the race. (Different story after the 2+ hour drive home - back to ice and Aleve). Sleep deprivation had my mind wandering, and I really don't remember much about the scenery. I do remember that my 10 mile split was about 10 minutes faster than my run at Chester Woods last weekend.

Finally got to the finish line and headed over to the post race spread. Quite a bit of food available - deep fried turkey, pizza, pasta salad, home made baked goods, baked beans, watermelon, etc. I just had some pizza and pasta salad, then decided to change into some dry clothes and head back to the Twin Cities.

Thanks to RD Jeanne and her crew - there were LOTS of volunteers, all of whom were organized,very friendly, and enthusiastic! And whoever was in charge of the weather couldn't have done a nicer job :)

June 8, 2008

Chester Woods Race Report

Matt posted on his blog that you might be an ultra runner if the winner of the race finishes on a different day than you do. I almost pulled that off at the Chester Woods 10 mile yesterday! Not really, but I did get a new PR for slowest 10 mile run ever.

How do I feel about that?


Why am I thrilled?

Because my foot doesn't hurt, even though I re-tweaked it a couple of times during the race. And, I like to think that I got my money's worth touring a beautiful park just east of Rochester that I had never visited before.

I was feeling a little nervous about running 10 miles on trails since the tendonitis episode began after Superior a few weeks ago. Even running 4 miles on asphalt was setting me back just a week ago. I hadn't run at all since a 3 miler on the treadmill Tuesday, but the time off appears to be just what I needed.

I woke up to small hail pelting my windows, which wasn't anticipated. I thought we were supposed to have nice weather in the morning with rain later in the day? Driving down to Rochester, the skies cleared up and it was a beautiful morning. As we were lining up at the start, I noticed some dark clouds that seemed to be moving in our direction. Oh well!

Off we went, first through an open meadow with wide, grassy, gently rolling hills that had a few holes to watch out for. I was running pretty conservatively, carefully testing my foot and ankle. My foot was feeling OK, but the warm temps and humidity were very noticable to me, especially since it's been such a cool spring. After my electrolyte problem at Superior, I planned on taking an Endurolytes cap every 2 miles. I also brought my own isotonic sports drink in a hand held, mainly because I wasn't aware that there would be aid stations about every 2 miles.

Soon we came upon the first of the Burma shave mile markers and shortly afterwards were running through a campground with a few curious campers cheering. Short sections of asphalt, then wood chip trails, and then gravel road followed. The 5K leaders began to pass us until we parted ways on different trails. There was a gorgeous view from the ridge top overlooking a valley and a fun run through the woods.

By now, the skies had become overcast, and I thought I heard thunder in the distance. Or perhaps it was my heart pounding, since I was (am) so deconditioned after my 3 weeks of rest ;)
After crossing a bridge over a creek, we set off on an out and back loop, so I could see the faster runners returning as they passed me by. Just about the time I got into another wooded section, the skies opened up and rain came pouring down. Pouring. It was dark enough in the woods that I almost felt like I needed a flashlight! Tweaked my ankle a couple of times, but everything was still feeling OK. I got completely soaked to the skin and my shoes felt like bricks strapped to my feet, but the rain also helped cool me down. Next came a steep downhill followed by deep sand, then back into the woods. Footing was getting a little tricky, and the copious rain was making things slippery.

Another creek crossing, then a steep climb up the Big Dam Hill. This was another good test for my foot, especially since the side slope was causing it to overpronate. Beautiful view from the top! The worst of the hills were over at this point, but it was still slippery enough in the woods that I needed to slow down to keep my footing. Looking at my splits afterwards, I noticed that my pace slowed by 2 minutes/mile during the rain!

Just as I was nearing the finish, the sun came out again and my calves were starting to feel crampy. I stuck to my plan of 4 Endurolytes caps, plus my own sports drink, plus a few cups of Gatorade at the aid stations, but I think the humidity caused me to lose more water than I could replace during the run. I've still got some experimenting to do!

Wayne, Andy, and Judy were kind enough to stick around and cheer me to the finish line. Good thing I had my Garmin because the timer's watch died just then and we needed to use my watch to get my time. Then off we went to have a dill pickle and other post race refreshments. I changed into dry clothes and missed the awards ceremony in the process. Oops!

Still had a chance to meet RD Jim and thank him for the great job that he and his crew did to put on this race. He introduced me to several folks, including Hall of Fame Coach Severt Legred who served as the official race starter. The Rochester Track Club folks really know how to put on a great event, and I highly recommend this one!

June 6, 2008

Busy Weekend for MN Runners

Lots of the running locals will be pulling all nighters this weekend in warm and humid weather.

Brent and Matt will attempt to run 100 miles at Kettle Moraine in Wisconsin.

Steve, Carl, Karen, and Julie will be running for 24 hours at FANS, Adam is doing 12.

Many of us (including moi) will run the Chester Woods 10 mile near Rochester Saturday morning (part of the MN Trail Run series), then head over to Lake Nokomis in Mpls to cheer on our FANS buddies, many of whom will probably complete their first 100 mile race!

Stop by their blogs and wish them well!

June 3, 2008

Training Week

My foot feels much better than it did 2 weeks ago when I was limping and it hurt to even stand on it, but it's still not completely healed. I've been sticking mainly to the treadmill the past week and a half, but finally ventured out for 2 laps around Bredesen over the weekend. Was really hoping to meet up with the gang at Afton on Sunday, but any uneven terrain at all right now is really getting the foot riled up. Even 4 miles on asphalt at Bredesen got it pretty sore again (longest run I've done since the tendonitis started).

I'm a little worried about Chester Woods 10 mile this weekend - I haven't run on trails at all since Superior and am still going backwards after even short runs. This may turn out to be a power hike rather than a run.

I'm much more worried about Sour Grapes half marathon next weekend - I've heard that it's a pretty "bumpy" course where it's easy to roll your ankles (a few ankle eversions at Superior is how this all started). And I feel ridiculously out of shape at this point.

5/28 - 2 miles on the treadmill + strength training. Foot so-so afterwards. Ice.
5/30 - 3 miles on the treadmill + strength training. Foot ok afterwards, iced anyway.
5/31 - 4 miles at Bredesen - foot got kinda sore afterwards. Ice.
6/1 - 2+ miles near home - foot got sore enough that I pulled the plug early (was planning on 5) and walked the last 3. More ice.
6/2 - backwards squat intervals on the Ellipse + upper body strength training.
6/3 - 3 miles on the treadmill. Advil.

At least I'm able to do a little, albeit very little, running at this point. The toughest part is trying to find the patience to let this heal so it doesn't become chronic.