Thursday, April 29, 2010

Trade Show Training

In an attempt to be consistently posting about running & training, I thought I would add this one in.

Workout of the week.

NAMA One show in Chicago.

AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible) in 3 days

> Stand at your booth all day
> Go out with team at night

My legs are sore, but things went well yesterday. Round 2 is today.

The company who is buying our company is two booths away. Neither of us are talking to each other. Makes for some interesting drama.

Now this is a random useless post, but some of you have told me to post more, so this is what you get.

I will take pictures of this workout and post them sometime soon.

ZZ Tops "La Grange" is starting to creep into my head. Can anybody guess why?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Anybody want to loan me a skirt?

I ventured out to Afton today to get my standard 25k time trial at Afton State Park. I have been lethargic all week, and have been bailing on most of my workouts.

I ran stairs with the Lapham boys on Wed, and brought up the rear on the final rep. My knee has been worrisome, but stairs and hills (up) are no problem. The descents... another story.

This morning was to be a quick out... run... and back home. I knew last night I had no chance of beating my last time. Sometimes you can tell.

Woke up this morning, and just did not have it in me. I decided to make the trek, hoping things would jump start a few miles in.

I actually ran hard through the first couple of sections, but my knee quickly sent me "danger" warning signs. So I stopped.

I have 2 weeks to get this knee where it should be. Luckily, Ice Age is not that technical. I would be screwed if it were the Superior 50 Mile.

But, this could slow me down enough not to pr... and that means.... wearing a skirt at Kettle 100.

I don't know why, but I have been dragging for a week. I guess my diet has been in the tank, and that is probably why. Non running related stresses and issues made last week not so fun. Possibly the coming weeks as well.

At the end of the day, I am just glad I get to toe the line.

That is enough self pity for one evening.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Don't blame them, thank them

I turned on the TV this morning and saw on the news that Kate Gosselin got "voted off" Dancing with the Stars. I never watched this show, but caught bits and pieces of the horrific John and Kate Plus 8, but am familiar with both. (I actually did watch Kelly Osborne try to dance to "Crazy Train" by Ozzy. It was too damn funny to pass up).

My wife liked John and Kate Plus 8, and I would always yell "Turn the channel.... this is BAD!". I was never okay with the family being the center point of a reality show. I also could not stand the other shows with that same format "Let's see how many kids we can have and profit off of it".

So every time I see Kate intereviewed, she always says "My family is the #1 priority in my life" (I am paraphasing). I saw her say it this morning. She even insinuated that her poor performance was a result of her unbridled passion for her family (Kids).

She did the same thing when people questioned the health of having a show with cameras constantly on her kids (without their consent). She did the same thing in an interview with her husband right as they were splitting. It is like if she just said "I do it for the kids" enough, everybody will give her a free pass.

So this interview this morning just ticked me off to no end. Hey lady.... Go on that stupid show, or don't...... But don't blame your kids for your poor performance!

Whenever politicians say "vote children first ", I usually assume they are more detrimental to the family than they are benenficial. When famous people go out of their way to tell us how much they love their kids, I become suspicious.

How many people do you know who say "I hate my family. I hate my kids."?

Every six months or so I run into a guy I know. A runner. A good runner. A marathoner. Pretty fast. I usually congratulate him on his recent performance. WITHOUT FAIL he says something like "Yeah, but I could do better. I have a family and kids" (I think he has 2). I bite my tongue, but want to say "Maybe we should subtract 5-10 minutes per kid off your time for your hardship"

A few months ago I read an article about a female Crossfitter who was training for the "Crossfit Games". She would come home from work some days and go straight to her workout, putting off family time for an hour. In the comments section of this article, some guy went off on her saying how she was a bad parent and should not be doing this. This guys said something like "I used to do traithlons, but realized I will never get that time back with my family, pushing the kids on the swing". I wish I could remember what he said, but he had no idea of this families' commitment and lifestyle. He looked at one action and concluded she was a bad mom. Some friends of this woman chimed in on the comments and put this guy in his place. I actually felt bad for this guy because I felt he wanted to be out competing, but can't. So he uses the self righteous "family card" to make himself feel good.

One thing I will never do is blame my family for my poor performance. I want my kids to witness how I handle success and how I handle failure. Yes, failure. You can spin words anyway you want, but kids understand failure. I want them to see that when you get knocked down, the good man gets back up and keeps going. He learns from his mistakes. He doesn't piss and moan. He doesn't make excuses. He accepts it, and moves on.

The last thing I want them to see is "My dad performed poorly because of us". or "My dad resents us because we prevent him from doing x, y, z". My family actually laughed at the fact of my last 2 DNFs. I can take it. I think that is a healthy response from them. I thanked them for their support. My wife actually wants them to crew for me soon. (ahhh... dear, you kind of need to have a drivers license).

The challenge of being a husband, a dad, a sales manager, etc., is finding a way to perform with all of this in the equation. Everybody has their own baggage. I am not going to speculate who's bagge is heavier than the next. But we get out there anyway and face the music.

Ironically, as some criticize me for "Spending all of time away from my family doing races" (three to be exact in the first 6 months of the year), I also hear about husbands I know who don't do jack squat around the house. And.... are not involved in their kid's lives.

I guess the right thing to do is sit around all weekend on the couch drinking beer, watching sports.

Friday, April 16, 2010


Tis the season to cram all of these into 4 week blocks.

One of the more obvious things I have learned in the past few years (I knew... but now I KNOW), is this simple concept.

"You get stronger during rest". I know it sounds simple, but most of us just run our bodies into the ground thinking we are pushing ourselves for what will end up being a return on strength. Problem is, we rarely allow adequate times of rest and recovery so our bodies can rebuild and come back stronger.

I rested until yesterday, and then hit back hard. My knee is still a little off, so I chose a metcon which would not stress it.

Welcome "Cindy"
20 minutes, as many rounds as possible

5 Pull ups
10 Push ups
15 Squats

I managed 9 rounds plus one more of pull ups. Interestingly enough, it was hard, but not "killer". I think this one is a lot less taking than Fran because it is all body weight. I have not done a strenght workout for 2 weeks. The rest helped too, as I did not have to do much "chipping". This workout also kind of snapped me back into performance/training mode.

The running workout:
3 minute intervals 6 times
alternate 1 minute rest/3 minute rest between intervals.

Not sure how far I ran, but it was good to "get the lead out". I am doing these outside now, as I really don't care about the distance, just the intensity. If I need accuracy, I will go to a track.

So it is full power until 1 week before Ice Age. Hopefully I can keep up with the fast Lapham boys for at least 20.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Wager for Ice Age

On the Crossfit Endurance websit today (you have to look a day back because they already have tomorrows up), there is a picture of my internet buddy Brandon at the start of the Bull Run 50 Mile trail race this weekend. Brandon owns his own Crossfit gym in Indiana and, as far as I can tell, is pretty much a bad ass.

6 months ago, he was not a runner. Like... never had run more than a lap or so around a track (feel free to correct this, Brandon). I think it was Senator Brett who challenged him to do an endurance run, putting CFE to the test. In true bad ass fashion, he goes from never running to a 50 Miler in 6 months. He successfully completed it this weekend. Great job Brandon. Here is where the debate comes in.

The workout of the day (or rest) has a photo and sometimes something to ponder and respond to. Todays was politically based, but people also were responding to a new running tackling a 50 Miler. So between the Obama lovers and haters, there was a little smack talk towards Brandon.

Someone named "E.P." actually stated that Brandon would have done a lot better following a traditional training method of "Long Slow Distance" (LSD). Whatever you feel about this subject, I found it rather audacious that someone was speaking from a standpoint of absolutes. I also got a little defensive for Brandon.

So I chimed in. Instead of repeating stuff others already had, I offered up a challenge. E.P. had basically brought up the question I brought up in January. "Can Crossfit Endurance take a good endurance athlete and make them better?" . What I was really thinking is... if the weather cooperates at Kettle.... could I improve? on this?

Well, E.P. basically said that it can't be done.

So I offered up a wager. Considering all of the variables for Kettle, and my recent performance (okay, lack there of), I decided to put the cards on the table for Ice Age. Since this will be my 4th year in a row, it is a great test race.

Here is the wager:

I PR at Ice Age (faster than 8:41) and E.P. has to wear a skirt at his next race.
If I don't, I do the same (I might have to make it a race after Kettle, because I am not sure how I would do that). But... I have no intentions of losing.

So the game is on. We have to pove it with pictures. Now that AH is recovering from some carribian butcher, I need someone else to do stupid bets with.

Ice Age will be fun.

Todd Braje is signed up. And I know of a few who will want to make him work for it. Hope they have fire extinguishers at the aid stations for the flaming shoes. Check out his times last year. That is some fast runnin'


Thanks for all of the supportive comments about Zumbro. I recovered quickly, but my knee is still a little off. I will probably be back at it tomororw.

I retrospect, I remember saying "I wish there were a 100k again this year. 100M just tears you up for the spring races." Maybe the drop was a blessing in disguise.

Talking to another runner this week on the phone, we kind of laughed at the idea of running an April 100. What were we thinking?

"We" are not rational people. It's the adventure we are after.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Zumbro 100 Race Report

Sometimes the shadow is the voice of doubt in the back of your head.
Sometimes the shadow is the controlling force preventing you from embarking on a journey or challenge which you know will push you to your limits.
Sometimes the shadow is voice rationalizing everything which should not be rationalized.

And what I just realized today is that the shadow can take over all operations and start saying and seeing things you would not have otherwise said.

Bill P. has had a few conversations with my shadow, and he had one Friday night/Saturday morning.

When I pulled the plug at Zumbro, it was not my shadow taking over. I actually rolled into the 3rd aid station on the 3rd 20 mile loop with the full intention to fix what was going wrong. Problem is, I still don't fully understand what went wrong.

My strength felt fine. My legs were a little sore, but what is to be expected past mile 50. I had no blisters, no chaffing, and only a sore knee to worry about. Somehow, I managed to get dehydrated.

I did not think I was dehydrated when I arrived at AS 3, I just thought I needed the right mix of food/calories/protein/fat. I even thought "Get a quick 15 minute nap, and that might do the trick". So I laid down on one of those 5 ft. long log benches (I am 6ft tall), and that did not work well. I then asked for a tarp, and rolled up in it next to the camp fire. Maybe a 30 minute nap.

People kept bringing me stuff to eat and drink, but the mere though of food brought me to the edge of puking. I even dry heaved in the fire once.

I started to realize I was probably done. I have been at this physical spot before, and it is not a quick recovery. Once I realized that, then the shadow took over.

The Shadow speaks

"I am glad I have not signed up for Kettle"
"Why do I do these races"
"No more races over 50 Miles for me"
and the cliche
"Never doing this again"

Not sure if I said any of these things, but I was thinking them.

I think I regained control at about 8am this morning.

So that is what happened. From about 7pm - mile 45 or so, until about 7:30 am the next morning, I only consumed about 4 ounces of liquid. Believe me, I tried. No dice. Dehydration was the symptom. I believe the disease was too much electrolytes.


I decided to take a different tone for the rest of this.

I did not want this to be a report where I describe getting to the cliff of death, and barely surviving. I actually want people to come away reading this with a "You know, that actually sounds like fun" attitude.

So it is all positive from here.

Hopefully some of the readers see this as a "I have to do one of these" reads.


What is the difference between a Marathon and an Ultramarathon?

Marathon - Pre race - night before

You show up to a crowded arena, pick up a packet full of crap you don't need a talk about what 5 minute gap you are hoping to fall into. You cram your mouth full of pasta and go home or to a hotel where you try to sleep, but fail to.

You never see any of the top runners, because they have a different area to check in. They even get their own staging area, possibly their own warm van and even their own bathrooms.

Ultramarathon - Pre race - night before

Sitting around a camp fire with Brent, Adam, Chad, and Donnie. The daughter of the "elite" runner comes over to our tiny little fire and says "My dad says you can come over to a real fire instead of these twigs". 1 hour before we saw him chopping wood with a Grim Reaper style double sided axe. I think I even yelled "Keep that up, we need every advantage possible".

We had a few beers, talked about running, talked about the course, and talked about upcoming events.

Anybody willing to put themselves out there on the start line or willing to volunteer is pretty much automatically accepted into the "club". I think the only rule of the "club" is "You have to get it".

You either "get it" or "you don't". If you have to ask why, you won't understand the answer.

I met to newcomers to the "club", Misty and Chad. Misty will be debuting 100M at Kettle. Chad, not sure, but by the look of the fun he had on his face I give him 1 year max before he is doing something like this.

Sun goes down, off to bed.

My tent was about 50 yards from the start line. Can't do that in a big marathon.


Morning comes - Aside from the turkeys, coyotes, owls, and other animals I can not identify, it was pretty quiet.


Marathon - Start

> Wait in line for porta potties
> Get to the start line 15min-1/2 hour before start so you don't get behind 10 min milers lined up in the 7 min block.
> Pee behind a dumpster
> Listen to cliche pre race songs over the loud speakers "Born to Run" and "Chariots of Fire"
> Get into an almost starting block stance so you can nail that first mile as planned

Ultramarthon - Start

> Race director informs runners of markings and special weird parts of the course. Example, "Flags will always be on your left, except when coming on the out and back section. If you come to an intersection in the trail, and there are no markings, you are off course. Go back to the last flag and get back on course". My favorite pre race RD speech went like this 3 years ago at the Superior 50 Mile race. "....... then go out to Cramer Rd and come back" (the out was 25 miles, as well as the back).

> No worries about going to the bathroom because you are going to have to go bathroom sometime soon anyway.

> Staging for proper pace in line? Well, in this case, if you didn't like it you could get in that spot right away.

> No music.

> Hopefully not a lot of thinking about what you are about to do.


And the game was on.

Almost immediately John Storkamp takes off (as instructed) but gives us the "look back". The big question at that point was how many people would risk going out at a Storkamp pace. I may not be smart, but I know from experience that a certain percentage of those front runners DNF as a result of going out too fast. That is the most dangerous game to play, yet the most rewarding for those who succeed.

I fell in with Brad Birkholz, Zach Pierce, Daryl Saari (Brownie), and a few others. Same old same old.


The field spread out.

Blah, blah, blah. None of you actually care about what happened the next 20 miles. But I will tell you this. I learned Daryl's nickname is "Brownie", and that he HAS been chicked by the Mrs. Could there be a Mr. and Mrs. Granly Bandit this year? Daryly might have to give his pants to his lovely wife, Lynn.

Adrian, the stud from Illinois was with us for a while. This guy has some serious mojo. He decided to run this 2 DAYS before the start. With a Badwater under your belt from the previous year, as well as a McNaughton 2nd place finish, I guess nothing is out of the question.

I tried to manage coming into one of the aid stations elbowing Brad or Zach to show I was actually ahead of them at one point. Like that really matters.


Loop 1 = 4 hours. No problem.

Here is how stupid some of us are. We start thinking (and actually saying) "Yeah, 4.5 hour loops... no problem.

(loop 2 was 5 hours, and I was 7th or 8th).


Loop 2 - It starts to get warm. The "sand coulees" and rock cliffs sure capture some radiant heat. It got down right hot for a few hours. Luckily I layered, and stripped down. I was managing the clothes perfectly (although it is time to buy a white compression shirt, instead of black).

Damn it is HOT.

Somewhere around mile 30, Zach and I roll into A/S #2. John Gustafson is keeping an eye on us. We both look and feel like crap. We both ugged our way out of there and spent about the next hour in near silence. This sucks. Funny how you can bond a friendship without saying a word. I felt things would get better if we stuck together.

At A/S 4 he decided to do a big stop to change, and I went on with the plan to do the same at the next one. I fully expected him to catch back up as I was finishing.

I rolled into the 2nd loop finish in pain, but still together. Helen had my video camera and caught on tape. It is actually very interesting to see what state I was in. Bill was there to help out and learn how to open a trunk on a Volvo.


Loop 5 - Okay

First A/S. Bill gives me some ginger and I take my first pill of "Vitamin I". Just to take the edge off. I was sick to my stomach. I asked for a small baggie of "the pills" so I could take one every 2 hours. Good, smart plan. I take them. Put them in my side pouch where they actually fall straight to the ground. 2 hours later I was in shock.

But.... leaving that A/S, I felt good. I ran the next 2-3 miles no problem. Maybe more. I was recovering. I was better.

I saw Adam, a first timer at the next A/S. He was pulling the plug. I felt better so I gave him the "fellow runner" pep talk and instructions. 2 hours later I was in the same spot.

Basically, I went from fine, to miserable from mile 45 to 52. Not brain miserable, stomach stopping. Cement was in my stomach. Dry heaving. I can't get any water down. I can't drink anything.

I made it to A/S 3 with the full intention to take a break, and get it back. I got worse.

The Negative Part

I ended up curling up under a tarp by a campfire. What I thought was 1/2 and hour was actually 2.5 hours. I remember Larry making some comment about me under a tarp, and then he was gone. Just a few moments later, Bill P is calling my name (wow, those guys move fast!) These guys tried to get me to eat and drink stuff, but I could not.

I can't explain it. This was not one of those mental crashes. I spent the whole time trying not to puke. I was mad. What did I do wrong? I drank lots of water, took plenty of S Caps (what I thought was less than a moderate amount), and ate consistently (which now I think was too much). My whole body started cramping up (this never happens to me). I really screwed up.

I finally decided this is not worth it. I am not that tough to just duke it out. I can handle the running and bodily pain, but not the stomach pain. I also don't like the idea of trying to cover the next 3 mile leg without drinking any water.

On the short walk back to Bill's car, I realized going to the bathroom how dehydrated I was (you can tell by the color).

I returned to my tent, still in my running clothes (and gloves) plus extra warm stuff and slept. Woke up at 2 am, tried to drink some water, couldn't.

End of the Negative Part

Woke up at around 7:20 to hear Storkamp finishing.


I thought about changing the name of my blog to "A Guy Who DNF's", but even that is too much self deprecating humor for my blood.

My original plan was to use this as a training run. Try new method's, new things, new strategies.


What went right

I pretty much nailed the clothing part. No cold hands. Never cold (it was cold at times). When it got hot, I put on (it was put on me) sunscreen, and went down to a tank top. No Chaffing. No blisters. No black toes... yet. Could have one.

I went out at the right pace. It is sooooo easy to go out harder than you should on these, and run some of the easy hills. I did not. I never felt like my body could not run. I never lost the strength.

The strength training gave me strength in posture and an overall solid feeling I am not used to. I am used to flab and organs sloshing around, which eventually takes its toll.

There are other things which I think I did right, but may have been mistakes. Still thinking about that.

What went wrong.

Zero heat acclimation. It got hot enough where this became a factor for a few hours. Damn.

Hydration & Electrolytes. Missed by a long shot. Maybe it was the way the race director mixed the drink

Food. Tried new foods. I think they might have been okay, but in the wrong quantities.


At least I can say this. I have a long training run in so I can go hammer at Ice Age.

There are a lot more thanks and congratulations I should put here, but there are so many.

Bill, thanks for covering helping when I was down.

Brad, that was an awesome finish.

Zach, repeat age class title and 3 in a row against me. Look out at Ice Age.

Larry, you dedication to putting on these races is amazing. You and your family are a cut above.

There are more to think, but just trying to get this one posted tonight.

100% sure about Ice Age, 50/50 for Kettle right now. It is not good to run an engine completely dry of gas. Once or twice is okay, but soon things go real bad, especially if the oil goes too.


Oh yeah, did Crossfit Endurance work? The heck if I know! I tell you this, I was doing air squats yesterday no problem and I can run up and down stairs today. We will have to wait until Ice Age to see. Fran, Murph, Griff.... here I come (they are CF names).

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Zumbro update

Well... call it a training run.

I pulled the plug at 52 or 53. Real bad stomach problems.

The consensus is real bad dehydration. Couldn't get the right balance of electrolytes.

Two 100s in a row I had to drop because of stomach issues.

I might be on the fence with Kettle now. This is not how I want to be competing.

Thanks to everybody for the emails and support.

Looks like Brad Birkholz is the new sheriff in town (aside from Storkamp).

Report to follow when I get my head back in line.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Final Notes

First off, a big shout out and a get well soon to my friend sitting in a hospital bed in the Cayman Islands. You picked a real bad time for a ruptured appendix.

I can see him now asking the doctor if the I.V. conforms to the Paleo Diet.

Get well soon.


There is no webcast or live updating for this race. But, Scott and I might try to "Twitter" some updates. I saw might, because we have tried this in the past, and has not worked out too well.

Scott can be found on twitter as "runlikemonkey", and I can be found by my name or "kettlefans". At the end of any tweet, we will try to put a "#zumbro100". If you click on that, it will show all tweets which has that tag.

Problem is, coverage only works up on the ridges, and I would have to carry my blackberry. I might opt not to do that.

If you are my "friend" on facebook I might do 1-2 status updates. I will keep it cryptic as to not shove what I am doing in the face on my non running friends. (You see, my wife wants to know I am okay. I figure if I update around 10pm with a "doing fine, still alive, xxx miles, Storkamp pounding us" she will fell better).


For those coming down to volunteer or pace, maybe try to find the video camera I brought down. I will give it to Bill P, and hopefully it will float around the race and capture everybody at different times. I have three 1 hour tapes, and a charger for it. Save at least one tape for the night. I hope to compile some kind of movie with that.


Very glad to see Brent is back from the dead, and ready to rock. He ran Superior 2 years ago faster than the course record at Zumbro. Impressive.

I predict a breakthrough race for Zach. He's gamed me on the last 2, so I have to catch back up.

The Fastest Matt decided to bow out for a couple of reasons (smart reasons). I am bummed not to have a Matt to race against. And it doesn't count if you are the only Matt. I will have to wait until another day to race a faster Matt. (I still have this idea that Long will show up on a whim).


Great job to Craig Swarthout of the Lapham Peak gang. He was one of the Sausages in the relay for the Brewers opening day. He ran 1.1 miles in that suit. Rumor has it he will run Ice Age in it. You can see a report and slide show here. He was not the one who got run over. I think he was the Brat.


Good luck to the Chippewa 50K runners (especially you, Wilson). And good luck on T.F.H.

So that is it. Thanks for all of you who have sent emails, who read this, and are just supportive in general. I almost ditched this blog back in December, but had fun documenting this training cycle.

And remember, this is just a training run.

Does anybody buy that?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Reflections & The Shadow

It is inevitable.

Race week is the hardest of all weeks. The mind and body starts playing tricks on you. All insecurities come to the forefront. If you are not busy, you will go crazy.

I try to use this week to reflect.

I first thank the Lord that I have been blessed with the ability to show up and do something. The event is worth it, even if one does not run. If you want to get a taste of what this is all about, just show up and hang out. You will enjoy it, I promise.

I think back to my first marathon (1991-Chicago). I was TERRIFIED. I was not afraid of the race as much as I was afraid of what would happen to my body when I pushed it to the max. Not pushing it to the max never factored into the equation.

I think back to first joining the Minnesota Dead Runners Society email group. I remember seeing a post by Julie Berg looking for people to get together to talk about running ultras. I thought they were completely nuts, yet something sucked me into to those posts and race reports.

I think back to my first Ultra, Superior 50K. I will never forget Pat Susnik saying "keep it slow... trust me". I kept wanting to run ahead. At the turn around, he took out the shovel and buried me. When I passed the 3 1/2 hour mark in that race, I feared the unknown. I had never run for that long of time.

I think back to my first Ice Age 50M, my first 50 Mile. Mile 32 I crashed and burned, leaving only my teeth as a method to identify my remains. I actually contemplated walking off one of those ridges between "Margaritaville" and Horseriders. That pain would surely not be as bad as what I was experiencing. I got my stuff back together, and managed to have a good final 10 miles. Wow, you can recover in these.

I remember my first hundred..... attempt. Kettle 2008. That word and date says it all. Enough about that (DNF).

My first hundred finish came at Superior Sawtooth that same year. I spent almost 2 months dreading a repeat of Kettle. Fear had taken back control of my body. That day (2 days) are ones I will never forget, and wish to never live again. I was willing to finish at almost any cost. And I almost got to "any". The bees had their fun, my knee went out, and I hit a dark abyss. Physically, I was still there, but The Crosby Manitou Gorge changed me. It was that experience that taught me these races are about something else. I am not sure I can articulate it, but the other runners out there know exactly what I mean.

I will never forget returning to Kettle Moraine 2009 to seek revenge. Revenge IS best served cold, and in this case it was sweet. When I am feeling down, I go back and read that race report. As arrogant as that sounds, I wrote that report for that reason. As a reminder of things gone right. For those new to reading this, it can be found in the June 2009 archive.

And as quickly as you are on top of the world, the slide goes quickly down. And the bottom of the slide dumped me out at the entrance to the Crosby Manitou Gorge at the 2009 Superior Sawtooth 100. There was NO WAY IN HELL I was going to go into that darkness (in case you didn't know, that was around 2 am). Another DNF.

This DNF came with a new stride. I was trying to race instead of finish. Sometimes you pay the price. That one cost $150 plus expenses, and a pissed off crew.

The DNF not only builds character, it reveals it. What you do with it shows who you are.

So now I embark on another one of these adventures. I don't fear the race. I fear my shadow, the guy who lurks behind you but is always out of sight. He creeps into your head and messes with you. He rarely gets any play, and rarely gets heard. But when the chip stack starts to dwindle, the day turns to night, and the mind turns to mush, the shadow gets comes out and stares you in the face. He knows all of my insecurities, secrets, and ways to shut me down. He is a mean SOB, and he does it with a smile on his face.

And now matter how well you perform, he does not go away. He is someone I just have to deal with.

He is the one I am racing against.

And I have a score to settle

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Review of the Training

Now that I am about 3-4 months into this new training program and less than a week before the first race, I thought I would make an attempt of a review on how it was worked for me.

First off, I have to say that there are no absolutes in the world of training. There are plenty of well proven training methods for all distances.

Over the years, I have become a little suspect of the "standard" methods (or, most popular). I think they work great for talented and great runners, but not so much for the average Joe. I have tried many of them, and usually felt beat up, injured or just metaphorically pounding a brick wall.

Up until 2 years ago, my 2 best races were done without much attention to a training plan. My worst years were the ones I tried to follow them to a "T". My full realization came a few years ago when I ran the Whistlestop Marathon on a whim, without any "marathon" training. I had run Superior 50M 4 weeks prior, but had barely trained for that. No speed work, no tempo work, not a lot of mileage. I ran it faster than the races I put all of the work and training into. I was at a loss.

Later that year I made the switch to the "Maffetone" low heart rate training method. It was surprising hard. The difficulty was from the discipline to keep it "low and slow" for a solid 3 months. It worked well for me that year, but even better from me last year. The thing it lacks, I have recently realized, is intensity training.

Now 3-4 months into "Crossfit" and/or "Crossfitendurance", I have seen a new side of things. I am running harder than I have in probably 10+ years, yet am not burned out or injured (kind of - Fran on Monday kind of tweaked my knee - I should be fine).

So here are some pros and cons from my experience.


Time efficiency - I work out 5-6 times per week, 3-4 "2 a days". The workouts rarely last more than a half hour. Some last 5-10 minutes (those are usually the hardest). I am not taking off to Afton State Park every other weekend at 4am and returning at 2pm. Also, I am not waking up at 4:30- 5am every weekday to run 8-12 miles.

Burnout - With the shorter time spans, burnout is less likely. For me, the running workouts are easier than the strength and conditioning workouts. Doing the running ones is just a matter of starting, and focusing. The strength and conditioning workouts are different every day. It is kind of fun to be constantly trying new things.

Intensity and Commitment - This is a big one. I used to be able to roll out of bed, have a few cups of coffee and hit the road to run. Within 1 mile, I was ready to run. Can't do that with the strength and conditioning workouts. If you are not FULLY COMMITTED to the workout, you WILL fail. This is good and bad. You can dial them down to a different scale, but even those are hard. You have to follow Yoda's advice on these. The reason this falls in the "pros" category is because of the benefit. I can now take on high intensity without fear. Fear has always been something I have struggled with, and part of the reason I love ultras. The fear aspect is hard to explain here, but I have chipped away at some of it.

Results - I know I can run a 5:30 mile or better right now, and my PR at Afton last weekend sealed the deal. I can't say yet if this will work longer than 20 miles, but I am not as worried about it as 1 month ago.


Difficulty - This is not for everybody. The workouts are not only intense, but many of them take certain equipment and skill to perform. Someone asked me a few months back, "Do you think a lot of people will get on board with this low training scheme?". The insinuation was that this is easy because of the low mileage. I don't think this will become a trend. The average runner who is not competitive will not do well with the intensity. This is not a recreational training program. It is hard, it takes commitment, and doesn't take excuses. This narrows the field of runners down significantly. If you don't do the workouts as intended, you won't see the results. With any program, I can't stand it when people do it half-assed and say "that didn't work well".

Potential for injury - Not on the running part, but on the strength and conditioning part. There were days I felt like I was in a street fight. I tweaked my back, neck, and legs all at different points. These workouts take a certain skill you have to learn, and continually develop. But caution, a bad push press or dead lift could side line you.

Ignorance - If I have one more person ask "is that P90x?", I am going to scream. I guess it is the equivalent of the "how long is that marathon" question. The point of this con is I have to constantly field questions. AND... I have to listen to people telling me what I should "try". Without fail, the person giving me the advice is in far inferior shape/weight than I am. I don't go around telling people about this, the questions are a result of them asking "how are you training".

Equipment - You really need some equipment and space. A good olympic bar is essential. Pull up bar is essential. I took a 3/4" od pipe and mounted into a header beam in my basement ($8). You can search the forums for making stuff on the cheap.

In conclusion, I have had fun and have enjoyed the last 3 months of training. I would not have made it with my planned 70+ miles per week. I just did not have that in me this year. If I lay an egg at Zumbro, don't blame Crossfit too quickly. There are a lot of things I have done wrong. I will judge the success based on Zumbro, Ice Age, and Kettle. The actual times might not be the deciding factor, though.

Few more posts coming in the next few days regarding Zumbro. Thanks for reading.