Sunday, December 9, 2012

1st Week in the Books

Man, what I week.

The mileage challenge started this week, and I set the bar pretty high for myself.  The problem, though, was my first run on Monday did not go well.  I decided to treadmill it (sometimes harder for me than running outside).  I got on, and was not into.  I was hoping for 10, and quit at 4.  I fully intended on making it up..... but we all know how hard that can be.

Managed 10 miles each day Tues-Friday.

P90X came this week, and my 8 year old was super motivated to do it with me.  So we did the fitness test on Thursday night, and did the first workout on Friday.

I have to say it is kind of fun.  It is even more fun to have an 8 year old saying "come on dad, BRING IT"  He loved it.  I hung in there.

It is easier than Crossfit so far, but a lot different.  This is more manageable for the average human.

Saturday brought the famous "Donut Run" organized by Jordan.  I was not going to do it, but Bill P and Adam have been making a sport of gaming me on my lackluster performance lately.

The Donut Run is a fun run where you run through South Minneapolis, stopping at a multiple of Donut Shops.

I was to join them on the 17 mile loop (the long distance).  I needed more than that, so I arrived early and did 3 loops around Lake Nokomis (about 7.5 miles total).

It was a blast.  Got to see a bunch of friends, but around mile 20 started to suffer.  Add in a few overshoots on which street to turn, my total was 25.8 miles.  If I knew that, I would have gone for the 26.2 (or actually 26.3) just to say so.  But once I stopped, I was done.

Woke up this morning and did the Plyometrics P90X workout with my 8 year old.  Wow, what a great workout, but not a good idea 24 hours after a long run.  I toasted me.  But, this disc alone, is worth it for any ultra runner.  All of the moves are great supplements for ultra training.  And it is actually kind of fun.  I can't believe my kid just plows through it.  He is a red belt in Karate, and wants to be a professional athlete already.  He can beat me on a lot of stuff, but I still think I have better form (deeper squats).

So my total for the week
70.25 miles
Long run = 25.8


Friday, November 30, 2012

Challenge updates

So I open my big mouth, and I get sucked into a competition with some of the guys from Wisconsin.

The contest is between about 15 people.  Here are the rules


1. We'll start Dec 3rd and go thru March 10th, runnng or walking miles only (as a dedicated workout) only.  No equivalent credit for biking, skiing etc.


2. Email the entire group your weekly mileage total and your longest single run for the week by Sunday night, no later than midnight, I will compile the week's results and send it out to the group on Monday.  If you don't have access to email, you can txt me at xxx-xxx-xxxx.  If I hear nothing from you by midnight, no credit for the week.


2. Mileage is honor system, you're only cheating yourself, give me your weekly total and longest run to the nearest decimal (yes that has decided the rank of runners previously)


3. Payments per week. (cheaper than any gym or coaching fees) To be paid at the end of the challenge.

        A. Four people with the lowest mileage totals will owe $2 to the pot.

        B. Four people with the lowest single long run will owe $2 to the pot.

        C. More public embarrasment if you're at the bottom of both.


4. Points system

        A. Points will be given to everyone for weekly mileage totals, 1 pt for lowest mileage, 11 pts for most mileage

                (here's where the consistency comes in, miss a week and it is hard to make up)

        B. Points will also be given for Top 5 single longest runs of the week

                (lower points since not as valuable to your training as weekly mileage but still key to endurance)


5. End of challenge payout
      A - I left this part off so the feds don't come and bust us an illegal gambling operation.  All of my winnings, if any, will be donated to my church.
Thanks to Joe F for getting me involved in this.  Hopefully I can rise to the challenge.  My goal is average of 50-60 per week.
In other news, I decided to also do P90X over the winter months.  I pulled the trigger, and ordered it.  I get a kick out of the commercial, and am curious how an endurance athlete..... correction, former endurance athlete trying to make it bak, can hold up on this program.
Take a look at the fitness test here and that can be my fitness challenge to all of you.  If you want to do our own form of the mileage challenge, I am game for that too (since I am already doing it)
I will be updating my progress on the fitness test benchmarks.  It is all about progress.  I will include 2-3 trial runs every month, ranging from 1 mile to 10 mile.  (time trials).
If I take the before and after pictures of my rock solid..... rock....  six.... okay, flimsy abs, I won't be posting those pictures.
This should be fun.  Looking forward to something different, but not as crushing as Crossfit.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Anybody up for a Winter challenge?

I have been toying with the idea for a while now (okay, every Winter) to do some kind of winter challenge to keep me motivated through the dark months of the Minnesota winter.

I was thinking of setting a bunch of benchmarks, ranging from short running distances, to more complete body workouts.

The idea would be to have certain workouts to complete during the week, and I post progress and updates.

In addition to the weekly workouts, I was thinking of having a bunch of other benchmark exercises to work on (pullups, pushups, squats, etc.).

Not sure how I would score it, but the intent would be to reward improvement.

If interested, you could sign up with me under your real name, or an alias.

Not sure what the specifics would be yet, but just trying to gauge interest.

Anybody interested?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Should the New York Marathon be cancelled?

So hurricane Sany hits, and New York City and surrounding areas are crippled.

Yes, we all know the devastation to the area so I am not going to rehash it.

On Wednesday it was announced that the NYC Marathon would continue as scheduled.  I thought "hmmm... this should be interesting."

I quickly figured out that it would be "controversial."  Not that I think it is controversial, but the mass public would think it is.

I think the sticky part of this whole thing is the fact that it starts in Staten Islan, and that was a spot especially hit hard.

I get that the local residents there will have a hard time seeing resources allocated to a "sporting event", while their lives are in turmoil.

I saw one woman intervied who said (not ver batim, but pretty close) We have nothing, no cash in our bank, no credit cards, no water, no food, etc.

Okay, this thing was coming for almost a week, and you did nothing to prepare?  Why should the marathon not be held because you refuse to do anything to prepare for a national distaster?  This person was shown by a news crew as a reason not to hold the marathon.  Although, I am not sure if the reporter asked "should the marathon be cancelled?".

I know many of you will think I am heartless.  I am not.  I know a lot of people in that area.  It is a tough situation.  But if you live your life day to day, paycheck to paycheck, meal to meal, the smallest wrinkles in life will be difficult.

.......and yes, I can speak from experience.  I was laid off from work 2 times in 18 months.  I never missed any of my obligations to my debters, or my family.  Yes, I was somewhat lucky, but I was prepared and focused on moving forward.

So the question, in my opinion, should be "why should the marathon be cancelled?"

The marathon brings in over 300 million in business.  I fuels the hospitatlity industry, sporting goods business, and many other periphery businesses.  There are countless business along the route who benefit from it.

I understand if police resources are being used which are needed elsewhere, but the NYPD has said that is not an issue.

I saw a report about some massive generators being used for the marathon media tent, and citizens being outraged that those generators weren't being put to use in communities without power.  Problem with that is...... I don't believe you can just wheel a massive generator up to a power grid and flip a swtich.  It is a bad perception, but those can be used to power all of the homes they potentially could.

All the while, Times Sqaure is still lit up.  (I was told it never lost power, but can't confirm that).  So Times Square stays lit, and nobody has a problem, but the marathon uses a genrator to power a media tent and they are evil.  I don't get it.

I think it comes down to this.  The mentality of "If some of us are suffering, nobody should be enjoying."

This reminds me of when me kids were babies.  We had a few who never really slept.  There were times where I would get up with the kids to ensure my wife could sleep.  There were  times she would get up, but would be mad that I would stay asleep.  I would tell her "One of us needs to sleep.  Let's take turns so our house can function."  She actually said once that if she is up, I should be up too.  Yes....if she is suffering, I should be too.

Those days are long gong, and my wife is awesome and we love each other dearly, but those were difficult times in our lives.

This seems to be the bottom line with the marathon though.  "If we are suffering, all of you should be suffering.  Or, at least, not be enjoying".

By cancelling the marathon, the suffering would be expanded.

If the case is made that a significant amount of resources are being diverted to the marathon when they are GOING TO BE USED in other areas, then I might think of this differently.

But for now, I say, "Racers, get on your marks."

Maybe movie theaters, Broadway shows, entertainment venues, basketball games, football games, anything else fun should be cancelled too.

......and I guess this means I can never run for political office...... Darn.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Extreme is the new normal

Once again, sorry for my formatting problems.  I blog so infrequently now, I didn't realize my settings needed updating.

So one day last week I was driving to the airport.  I saw a car with a bumper sticker saying "Extreme" something and there were a few other stickers showing what this person did.  Nothing appeared to be extreme, but it was hard to tell.

When I arrived at the airport, I saw some kid on the C terminal tram wearing a "Tough Mudder" head band.  He was dressed casual.  Collared shirt, decent pants, but an ugly orange head band.  It was comical.

Now, for the record, I am fine with the "Tough Mudder".  Proceeds go to the Wounded Warrior Foundation.  Can't say anything bad about that.  I just find it amusing that this dude was so proud of competing in it, that he was wearing it when it clashed his outfit.... and he had no chance of sweating (unless he was worried about his flight).

In pop culture, "Extreme" is used for tv shows such as Extreme Makeover, Extreme Couponing, Etc..

In politics, people who don't fit the classic 2 party system are labeled "extreme".  I once saw Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan sit together in an interview with Tim Russert (I think it was him, but it was many years ago).  Ralph was giving the Green Party pitch and Pat, the Independence Party.  Both were labeled extreme.  It was the most informative, best political interview I had seen in years.  They are diametrically opposed, politically, but they were great to listen to.  They knew what they believed in, held to those principals, and didn't apologize for it.  The masses dismissed them as "kooks" and "extreme".

There was a show in the last 2 years about people with weird addictions.  The only 2 I remember were a lady who ate dish washing detergent (or something like that... can't really remember) and a guy who ran ultras.

The funny part about the guy running ultras, it wasn't like he was doing something really that unusual.  The documented him running Javelina Jundred, which is tough in its own way, but considered a fast course.  I wouldn't consider someone who runs mid pack at Javelina, in plus 25 hours as "extreme".

Local Minnesotans, John Taylor and Daryl Saari, are setting the bar for Minnesota on what extreme might be.  I know John has run at least 8 100s THIS YEAR!, and has finished at least 40 100s in his career.  Daryl, first guy to finish the Gnarly Bandit series, has run so many so often, I can't even begin to tel you how many he has run.  They both have completed Arrowhead Winter Ultra.

The great thing about these 2, you would never know it if you met them at a social gathering.  They do not toot their own horn..... at all.

.......and I am not sure I would label them as extreme!  Maybe because I know them and understand where they are coming from.

But it is not cool to be normal.  It is not cool to be average.  It is not even cool to be a marathoner anymore.  Now, one has to be extreme to be cool.

Now we have these "extreme" races where you have to run obstacles, crawl through mud, etc., and run (like 10 or 12 miles).  It might be hard, it might be tough, but extreme?

I even ran into a woman last year who, when she heard I was a runner, had this conversation with me.
Woman - "My mom is a big time ultra marathoner"
Me - "Oh yeah, what is her name, I may know or know of her"
Woman - "her name is xxxxx"
Me - "hmmm never heard of her.  What races has she run"
Woman -
Me - "What ultra marathons has she run"
Woman - "She is an ultra marathoner.  She runs lots of marathons"
Me - "oh"
My buddy - "uh,.... yeah"

I guess we all have to be extreme to be accepted.

I am "A Guy Who Runs" for a reason.  I do what most people could do, if they just put their mind to it and had the discipline to follow through.

I am extremely normal.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Long Road Back to Fitness

First of all, sorry for the format of the last post. It had paragraphs when I composed it. So.... after my fall into obscurity after Ice Age, there was about a week I seriously thought I was done. But somewhere in early summer, I thought I would rebuild and slowly get back into shape. I decided to go back to low intensity training, and build on it over the summer. I got 3 straight 10 mile runs in, then..... my car blew up, and stress came over the family. Long story short, I used that stress and axiety to not run for the better part of 8 weeks. I started back in early August doing "low and slow". I put in 20 and 30 mile weeks. Sometimes, just to get in 5 miles seemed like a marathon. What happened to me? Superior completely changed my attitude and persona. I did 45 miles that week, 47 the next week, and..... get this.... 80 miles this week. I had to see if I still had something in me. I joined up Bill, Todd, and Maria this morning for a long run, and ended up pounding out 24 to finish my big week. It has been 2.5 years since I have done that kind of mileage in one week. And it feels great. It was all at a 9.5+minute per mile pace. Little worn out right now, but I am happy I finally pulled that off. I guess there is no substitute for mileage. Good chance this blog will be back to regular posts. I have a lot I am considering and a lot to reflect on why I started blogging in the first place. This middle aged guy is not done yet.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Superior Sawtooth 2012

So after Ice Age this year, I basically walked away from most things running. I was frustrated, upset, and depressed. I had a hard time being around runners, especially ones I didn't know well. But at the same time, I realized I had taken a lot from the trail running community. I have sucked up a lot of resources and had not given a lot back in return. So I reached out to the Superior Race Director and said I am game for running a big overnight aid station. 4 years ago when I finished the Superior 100, I rolled into the Crosby Manitou aid station (mile 62), and was catered to by Maria and Doug Barton. It was like an oasis. And now, 4 years later, I was getting to be the oasis at Crosby for all of the 100 mile (and 50) runners. But selfishly, I was also looking for something to get me inspired and reverse the 2 year slump I have been in. So fast forward to last Friday, September 7th. I had support from the Lapham Peak Trail Runners Angela, Brad, Paul and a local Twin Cities runner Andrew S. Serious experience and knowledge helping out. It is a lot to ask people to give up an entire weekend, stay up all night, and really have nothing to show for it. But that is what this sport is all about. This aid station is not only far into the race at mile 62, it is kind of remote. It is way off the beatin' path, far from cell service, and precedes one of the toughest 10 mile sections of the course. The really cool part of working these is, you get to talk to the families and/or crew (sometimes both) of the leaders. The father of the eventual winner actually made the campfire at our station, and offered to help on numerous tasks. But the best part is to see people you have known, trained with, run with, crashed and burned with, fought with, cried with, and been yelled at, come through this section in a variety of conditions. Adam Schwartz-Lowe was so focused on his mission, he never heard me cheering him on. I told some of the other crews that Adam knows how to chew up other runners all night long. He did, and came in second with and awesome PR (22 something I think?) I also had the honor to take a runner from "I am dropping" to "Okay, I am heading back out onto the course". It took almost a half hour, giving him a dry shirt, Andrew giving him fresh batteries and a knee strap, some hot food and coffee, but he got up and went. How awesome is that? It felt great because so many people have done that for me. Still not sure who it was and if he finished. I hope to find him so I can tell him that..... get this... he inspired me. But the best part of the weekend started when my buddy Bill P., who has crewed for me three times and seen me at my absolute worst, came to me and said I needed to go pace Todd Rowe on Saturday. I would have said no, but Todd was one of the first guys I trained with out at Afton years ago. This was his first 100. It would mean missing most of the post race party and social hour, but I figured my energy could be better spent. So after packing up the aid station, taking a 1 hour "coma" nap, Andy and I went to find Todd. I was so punchy by then, I had this brilliant idea of taking the cow bell from my aid station and wearing it around my neck. I left the Sawbill aid station and ran backward to find him. So all of this runners heard this cowbell in the distance, and they thought they were at the aid station.... ooops. But I told them "got you fired up.... didn't it? They agreed. What I found out when I finally reached Todd was... he didn't need me. He was rock solid. He was power hiking faster than most people I have seen at that stage of the race. He was picking off 50 milers! He had grouped up with another runner, Jeremy, and there was no question they would make it. When we arrived at the aid station, I took the opportunity to taunt the sweepers (Horns and Maas), telling them there was no chance they would catch us. What I learned in those last 2 sections was not that these 2 needed some help, but there were others out there that needed help. Our train of 3 eventually turned into a train of 8 runners with Todd seriously pushing the pace. The gang behind us said they liked hearing the conversation and stories, so I continued with the boring stories and yapping I am so good at telling. (I talk a lot). We even found a new addition to the MN trail running group, Megan from Burnsville. I could tell this was a serious life event for her, and it was awesome being a part of it. Coming down the final stretch on the dirt road to the finish almost brought me to tears. For me, it brought me back to my first ultra finish ever (Suprior 50k many years ago) and my first 100 mile finish. I ran ahead with that annoying cowbell to get the finish area fired up for these runners. Not long after Todd finished, Misty Schmidt came across for her long awaited Superior finish. She overcame some serious pain as well as threats of timing out, but she brought the mojo home. It was awesome to see. What is next for me? Not sure. I could see working this same aid station for years to come. But I also have some other desires. Special thanks to John and Cheri Storkamp for an incredible race. Thanks to Angela, Andrew, Brad, and Paul for all of the aid station support. And thank you to all of the runners who brought their best.