Tuesday, December 20, 2011

There is one in every crowd... and it is usually me

Totally unrelated running post, but maybe some humor for you all this week.

I flew to St. Louis yesterday for a quick trip before the down time of the holidays (us in sales can't do much these 2 weeks... Nobody wants to see us)

Anyway, went to go pick up my rental car at Dollar. Not a single sign in the airport showing they even existed. Figured I would follow the Thrifty signs as they are usually close to each other.

After some searching, I found a little filled with people waiting for the Dollar bus. They had been waiting quite a while.

Long story short, we get there and they don't have any of our info on file. So they start from square 1 trying to upsell to a larger car, add ons, etc.

We all just wanted to get in and go. Since I was at the end of the line, I had a lot of time to come up with smart ass answers to every useless question they were going to ask.

So here it goes
"Good morning Mr. Patten, what brings you to town today?"
Answer "I am a hired assassin here on a hit"

"Uh.., where will you be driving?"
Answer "Hawaii"

"Who is your employer"
Answer "I can't reveal my source"

I almost said "Maybe you should call the guy at Radio Shack because I bought some batteries there last week and they have all of my personal information"

So later that night in the hotel lobby I saw one of my fellow soldiers who had to endure the same silliness. I told him I am still worried the guy reported me to the FBI.

Yes, there is a smart ass in every crowd...... I am honored to be that person.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Empty Glass Phenomenon

Through my extensive travel in the past 2 years, I have come to notice a commonality in the world of food service.

Try this the next time you go out to eat.

> Sit at the bar
> Order a beer
> Drink half of it
> Try to get the servers' attention (only through body language and eye contact)
> Finish the beer and count how many seconds your server comes to your service.

My point..... The empty glass is a far greater motivator than an eager server.


Empty glass = another full glass of XXX = larger bill = bigger tip

Yes, it is that simple. Our primal instincts are motivated by money, not by making people happy.

At a company I used to work for, I had a co-worker who called me "root cause Matt". I mentored and trained many people there, and I ended up spending a lot of time challenging people on the "root cause" of any issue.

The "root cause" has always been my key motivator, and the thing which has distinguished me from the competition.

What does this have to do with running?

Training. What is the root cause to success or failure in races?

Training. But not the formula of training. I have come to believe that there is no such thing as junk training/miles.

In the bike mechanic world, there is a saying "bad grease is better than no grease"

Well, "junk miles are better than no miles".

And that is what I have been lacking for the last year and a half. Not enough miles.

The restaurant server who ensures who is always focused on an empty glass, is the runner who always worries about "not enough miles"

As dumb as that sounds, I think there is some truth to that.

This is why I finally got my mileage up to 40 last week.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Airport Body Scanners - A runners anmaly?

First off, thanks to all of you (both) who keep reading. My temptation to quit blogging was not a cry for attention... just crying.

I will work on some beer posts. I have 4 beer available in the house, so drop me line and come by (maybe during the holidays is best)

So.... we all know the controversy about the new full body scanners at most US airports. I, for one, don't get caught up in the controversy. I find it very odd that we have willingly surrendered many liberties for all sorts of "public good" and airport scanners are the things that push people over the edge? Really?

Personally I think it gets legs because certain groups scream and cry about them, and the lemmings follow.

Me... yawn.... give me something real to worry about.

Anyway, I started noticing I was always stopped after going through these. The person TSA agent proceeds to a minimal "pat down" focused on my left leg. Hmmm, whatever.

But I kept happening. More specifically, my left knee. In fact, I turn around and see it on the little screen. It happens with different pants, different scanners, etc. Always the same knee.

So Tuesday I go through and jokingly say "let me guess, left knee?". Sure enough, left knee.

TSA dude says "Do you have any pins or screws? any surgery". No

But wait. Could my 30 plus years of running, some with 2000 miles plus years have an effect? Could it be scar tissue from running? Could it be a lingering effect of the infamous Sawtooth bee attack? (same knee, and I still have numbness there)

So any of you orthopods (Nic?) or geeky tech scanner experts want to try and theorize?

So how is that for a post?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

May be finished

This blog thing has been so low on the priority list that it is in danger of being shoved off the list.

Too busy? Not really
Too Lazy? Kind of
Don't really care anymore? Pretty much

Had a good stretch of fitness until mid-October. Been really hit and miss since.

Considering only 2 people read this anymore, I may just send you emails

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Superior 100 - 2011 Report

Any IT professional or computer geek can tell you what the difference between computer "RAM" and "ROM" is. I will do my best to simplify them.

RAM - Random Access Memory - Main memory available for programs
ROM - Stored Memory - Memory which loads your computer, loads programs, etc.

Every time you shut your computer off, your RAM is basically wiped clean.

Most ultrarunners I know only have the pain from ultras registered using RAM. Somehow, we forget how ugly it gets. Our ROM stores "how to run", training regimens, strategy, etc.

Emotions are stored in RAM........ and that is why we somehow come back to these brutal races.

I left Tettegouche aid station (mile 34 or so) thinking I was okay and could walk to recover. I knew this would be the first time I would be hitting the next aid station in the dark. Dang..... I was still a long way out from where I wanted to be. Night fell. The climb never stopped going up. I sat down on a log and put my hand in my face. I thought "How the hell did I ever finish this race?". And "Why did I ever come back?"

My emotional RAM wiped that feeling clean and my ROM replaced that feeling with a "aaahhh.... it aint' so bad".

Shortly after, I yanwed in technicolor, called ralph on the big white phone, worshiped the pocelein god...... and was pretty much done.

I guess a video montage of Me, Ron B, Kevin G, Chris S, Brad B, Aaron S, Craig S, Joe B, etc. would look a lot like an episode of Jackass. "Hey, let's see how far we can run until we puke!"

Considering I brought homebrew kegs for the gang.... it pretty much turned into a bad frat party.

But a few shined through. Some used this as a time to shine.

Angela Barbara of the Lapham Peak Trail Runners we getting chased by the course sweeps. Her times looked to close for any margin of error. She dug down deep and made up time in the last 2 sections to bring home 3rd women's masters.

Zach Pierce started puking when he saw my puke on the trail, and decided he was tougher. Zach's got the get it done mentality. He had less training and prep than I did for the race, but he has grown as a runner over the past few years. He had every reason to drop, but got it done with a smile. His wife and I were talking at the finish and came up the comment "ever since he has taken the watch off... he has been a pain in the ass to keep up with"

Adam Schwartz-Lowe decided he might try to negative split the 2nd 50 of this 100. He ran the second half in just under 13 hours (faster than it took me to go 42), and closed the gap of the lead runner, John Horns, to only 7 minutes. Adam took 2nd, but a damn impressive rally.

I don't really know the winner, so I can't really tell you what he did other than "he kicked some ass"

Julie Treder of Lapham crushed the course with a 30:45 (an improvement of around 5 hours from a prior year), but was heard saying "I am done with this one". Just wait until the RAM get erased.

Chris Hanson and Patrick Susnik made it look easy. They know this course better than almost anybody, they know how to train, prepare, and race it. They are calm, cool, and collective. They were just at or under 30 hours. Very impressive. They have run it many, many times. These two are like the Ice runners. (like Ice Man from Top Gun). Cool, clean, no mistakes.

Matt Lutz came back from dead in the water with racing flats and sandals to get a finish in. Not sure if he is just that tough, or just that stupid to do it in huraches. I think I am leaning toward tough on this one.


Matt Aro came in 3rd... officially promoting to "Fastest Matt" status (I think he was Iron Matt). The Fastest Matt has not yet been notified. I guess that will be a hard email to write.

So instead of giving you a sob story about me, I thought I would highlight awesome performances (there were many).

I will put a separate post together of what happened in those 42 miles so you can all learn from my success, and mistakes. But I have to say, I so much right.

Bill Pomerenke did an awesome job of assessing the impending heat, and did every thing he could to cool me. He is a gracious giver to races, and I thank you for that, Bill. And thanks for letting me drop at 42. I was done.

I feel good today, and will feel better tomorrow.......

After I go for a run

Short Superior Update

Hot day pounded the runners all day Friday and Saturday. I held it at bay pretty well, I thought.

My stomach went south and stopped me in my tracks around mile 38. Barely made it to 42. Tried to recover with a nap, but just not enough time to get my stomach back to go another 60 miles. Not sure I had the mind or the body to do it any way.

I am happy I started the race excitd to run.

Once again Superior destroyed many, many people.

Great job to all who went up, volunteered, started and finished.

Got some great stories

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Possible tracking & updates

Once again, we are going to attempt to twitter the race.

You can follow my crew's tweets at


At the end of each tweet, we will try to put a #straces. If you click on that, you will see others who are tweeting the races.

Bill has bigger plans for live updates, but not sure how we will pull them off yet.

25 hours to go time

Monday, September 5, 2011

Final Notes for Superior

The most common question we all get asked is "why do you do this/these?"

My answer in the past has been "If you have to ask why, you won't understand the answer". I don't even say that anymore. I just tell people "It's fun, but I don't think you would get it"

I am tired of discussing the subject with people who just plainly don't want to accept that many of us continually challenge our minds/body/soul harder and farther than most. I think that makes some people uncomfortable, so they start pontificating why I should not so something like this. Usually comes from an out of shape sloth.

Someone recently said to me "being healthy and fit will only add 4 years to your life".

Yeah...... but going to Superior 100 is an experience. It is more than a challenge. There is a decent chance of failure, inevitable pain & suffering, and a sure ticket to "damn.... why did I pay money for this".

It is the above which keeps me coming back. I know I can run a marathon. I know I could run a marathon in x time. I might be 5 minutes plus or minus that time, but close enough.

Superior is different. One can go for 6 hours and not once get bored at the scenery. To say it is breathtaking is an understatement. Add in all of the other stuff, and it becomes an epic event. To be a part of the event is special.

I am gracious that I can show up to the start healthy enough to think I can do it. Gracious to have people willing to blow their whole weekend seeing that I can make it through, and gracious to have a wife who says "have fun".

My first ultra was up there 6 years ago at the spring races. That course and the Ice course and Afton are my "home" courses. (If you can say that how infrequently I am on them). They are special to me.

I had a period this year where I thought I might be done with Ultras. Period. It was a down period where I just could not muster up any care.

The night before Ice Age this year I sat in bed (a very nice, comfy bed.... thank JL), and had a cloud of dread hanging over me. I really did not want to be there.

But all that has changed.

I am actually fired up.

I am prepared, somewhat trained, and full of a need to prove to myself I am not dead yet.

This race has significant meaning in my life. I don't think I can handle another DNF. So that is motivation in of itself.

So that is why I do these. Not really an answer, but it is what it is.

Maybe one more post on possible ways to follow the race. Crew has to be up for it, though

Friday, September 2, 2011

Final goals met

With 1 week to go for the big one, I met just about every goal I wanted to in my short prep for this race.

1 - Weighed in this morning at 165 lbs (goal)
2 - Yesterday had a PR "Tabata" workout.

What is Tabata, here it is for a treadmill. You adjust your speed based on your ability

Incline = 12%
Speed = As fast as you can go without slowing for 8 sets = I did 10 MPH (previous pr 9.2)
8 sets of
20 seconds on
10 seconds off

Yes, the workout is only 4 minutes, but it is hard if you are going at your max.

I was going to do 9.2 or 9.5, but I said "screw it... if I am doing a hundo next week, time to take it to the max"

Pretty pumped considering I tried it in June and almost passed out at 8.5 MPH.

The 165 lbs weigh in was a happy thing. I thought I would level out a few pounds higher. I might even get a few more off before next Friday, but I am happy with it.

The other goals were
> Being able to do a long run with no stomach issues
> Get "some long runs in" - Not sure if I met this one, but did "well enough"

Now time to start the collection of all of the crap I have to bring

Monday, August 29, 2011

A New Saying

On the run Saturday evening I came up with a new saying

"The pain you know is worse than the pain you don't know"

Think about it, why does a runner start struggling with a pace in a race? It is partly due to the fact that they can't maintain that pace. But I believe it is bigger than that.

When I start to struggle or suffer, I start worrying about what is going to happen to me if I continue at that pace. I worry about what has not yet happened. I worry that I will start experiencing pain I just can't handle. I start.... you get the picture.

The reality is, I use the current pain and juxtapose it to future unknown pain. Dumb

Now that I have revisited a modest amount of intensity training, I have retaught myself that "I won't die" if I continue this for another minute. AND..... my body will quickly recover so I can do it again.

I started thinking about that during the first hill climb Saturday. "This is starting to hurt, and we just started running". I was using that pain as a barometer as to what the Meat Grinder would feel like 12 miles later.

At the top of the hill I relaxed and it all came back. And it dawned on me coming out of the "Back 40" that "The pain I know is worse than the pain I don't know"

Many people use a similar thought process in ultras by just running "aid station to aid station", not thinking about the entire race. I have a hard time putting mile 90 out of my mind when I hurt at mile 25.

So this is my solution instead. Maybe I should trademark it.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The final tune up

With 2 weeks to go, I wanted to see how I was shaping up.

One of my benchmarks is to run a 25k loop at Afton. Old course or new course, it is a good test of strength, but not endurance.

I met up with my Superior Crew, Bill P, for a Saturday evening run on the course.

The weather was near perfect. The humidity had dropped, and it was in the 70s. It was not perfect, as perfect to me is 50's, overcast, and very low dewpoints.

I told him we were going to go fast. Run the hills. Run everything. I said 2:15-2:20, but thought I might be doing a 2:30. I have not run that this in a while.

2 years ago Bill joined us for the first time at Afton, and struggled to hold with the 3:00 pace. He hung on like a horse and kept me on my toes almost the entire loop, ending with a 2:20.

I am thrilled to have come in just under 2:19, and that is with almost 2 minutes of bottle filling at the water pump.

A little more speed, strength, and endurance work, and my PR could fall on this course this year.

Which brings me to confidence and a cautious sense of readiness for Superior 100.

I am probably 10 pounds lighter than 3 years ago, and a better understanding of how to run this. I may not have the endurance training, but enough to get by.

It shall be a fun race

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The hay is in the barn?

That is the normal saying 3 weeks out from an ultra.

I stand at the door of my barn looking at a minimal stack of hay. I feel a bit like the prodigal son, gone during the key months of hard work. I return just in time to have the Superior Father embrace me, welcoming me to the races.

Problem is, I don't know what damage all of that fun being the prodigal son did to me. We will see.

But..... I managed to get in my first 50k training run of the year! And no stomach problems! I only was a little dehydrated. I finished feeling comfortable and knowing I could have gone a lot longer.

I successfully put the pieces together.

1 - Correct food
[carbs] - Strawberries, grapes, & cherries
[protein] - Hard boiled eggs, beef jerky
[fat] - cashews - Alicia reminded of Coconut oil.. must try that next weekend
all of these in moderate quantities every hour.
2 - Water, no sports drink
[electrolytes from s caps]
3 - Correct slowing of pace when it warmed up

My goal was to be comfortable and not feel sick - Mission Accomplished (wait... that's a bad omen, right)

Fun day with Bill P, Matt B (yes... another Matt... and this guy ran the whole Afton loop in "Barefoot Ted Sandals", Wilson, Alicia, and Joe B.

Bill showed us how it is done with a sub 6 hr training run, Matt and Joe left gas in the tank for loop 3. I brought up the rear with a comfy loop 2 finishing the 50k in about 6.5 hours. Not my fastest, but I can handle that now.

Sawtooth is not a race of speed or strength. It is a race of adaptation, skill, experience, strategy, and a little bit of luck. I know if I can keep what I did on the second loop stable up there, I will be in great shape.

Not time to put the strategy together, and cross the fingers.

Great job to Helen Lavin, Kim Martin, Dale Humphrey (and many others) who not only toed the start at Leadville 100, but earned a buckle. Awesome job.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

3.5 weeks.... and still training

In case you were wondering, I have only been doing about 1 official Crossfit workout per week. I just can not handle too much more.

Today I decided to go back to the standard and try Fran.

21 pull ups
21 95 pound thrusters

15 of each
9 of each

for time.

Last year I was able to do 11:20 (which is pretty lame). Today was 13:20. Funny, the pull ups were the easier part this year. The thrusters killed me.

95 lbs does not seem like a lot until you start throwing it above your head. I probably could have done faster, but I had to break it up into a lot of chunks.

I am a little nervous that, with 3.5 weeks to go, I struggled with a workout which emphasizes power squatting. I should have quads of steel. I don't.

But that's cool.

I am down to 167-168... So almost there.

I think a hard core long run this weekend and 20-25 next weekend should put me where I am comfortable.

I am putting my strategy together in the next 2 days.

I know this..... Sawtooth will be one where I am doing my own race. I fully expect to be alone most of the time. I have no interest trying to keep up with someone, or burden someone else to keep up with me.

I would opt not to wear a watch, but getting the food and electrolytes in over the correct period of time is kind of important.

I may have to improve on my race weight... can we say 162?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

How do you train for these?

The most common question I get from runners is

"How does one train for a 50 mile or 100 mile race?"

One can search and find a ton of info, data, reports, etc. But my favorite answer is from the ultra community;

"You train for them by doing them"

There is no substitute for experience.

The 2 lines above were my saving grace yesterday. I went out to Afton State Park for a "Get as many miles in as possible" run. I figured I could do 50k no problem, and hoped I had the mojo to tack on a few extra miles.

No dice. At around mile 25 I found myself laying on a bench almost going to sleep. I just have not run enough of these tough long runs.

But.... that always happens with me. I was in the same spot 4 years ago with the Superior 50 mile. I started running in August after taking 2 months off, and put together a pretty good race. I remember the exact same training run at the exact same place, time, etc. That training run left me thinking "what am I doing? I need month... not weeks"

Here is where experience comes into play. I have been at that spot so many times, it doesn't even phase me anymore. I am behind the gun, and have about 2 more weeks of hard work (yes, that means a 2 week taper.... although tapering requires building up a lot of miles).

Instead I look at the positive of where I am today as opposed to 6 months ago, 2 years ago, etc.

1 - 168 lbs this morning (I know I was 180 or above 6 months ago)
2 - Less body fat = less water retention = less demand for water = less chance of dehydration (this is my own anecdotal theory)
3 - Less bod fat = less weight = easier to run
4 - 80% Paleo Diet compliance = Body burning fat as a primary fuel source instead of glycogen
5 - I ran with no sports drink and consumed no carbohydrates yesterday, and never had the mental crash
6 - I held off my stomach dry heaves a lot longer than normal yesterday even with the muggy conditions.

All in all..... I have the building blocks, the foundation, I just don't quite have the actual building.

I arrived at Afton at 5am yesterday to find Wayne N, Karen G, and Anjeanette taking shelter from a 2 hour downpour. Bill P was waiting for me.

We took off, and I immediately started commenting on my sweating. My fingers were swelling within the hour, so I took it extra slow.

The rain from the night before created an Amazon effect in the canyons on the "Back 40", and any low lying area. We had some relief up high with a slight, cool breeze but my body was pumping out bucket of sweat.

We comfortably did a 3 hr loop, and I actually felt fine. I consumed about 90 ounces of water, 6 S-Caps, and a hard boiled egg. The egg was perfect food at 2 hrs.

I switched from my hydro pack to a double 20 oz bottle hip pack for the second loop. I soon felt the oncoming of full dehydration. I am not sure if the pack water quantity would have kept it at bay. I was HARD for a good hour, and even with significant walking, I could not keep it at bay.

So I bailed after Campground hill. I was very sleepy and just out of gas.

I had some strawberries and cherries in the car which I SHOULD HAVE consumed while running. I am experimenting with getting my carbs from stuff like that instead of liquids which I just do not like (I can't stand the taste of Heed).

Next weekend I will try the fruit. But I am not worried. As long as it is not muggy at Sawtooth, and there is no torrential rain, I put my chances at "good"

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Nothing to lose which won't grow back

I was down in Sconnie Land last night running with the Lapham gang. I told BrotherGrub "I am doing it. I have nothing to lose." He responded by saying "execpt for toe nails, skin, etc.". I clarified by saying "Okay, nothing to lose which won't grow back".

I signed up for Sawtooth 100 Mile last night.

I was supposed to be crewing up there, but those plans changed. And now with 4 weeks left, I need to get my butt in gear.

The Pros
* I will be down to my lightest weight in years, or ever by race date (goal is 165.... I was around 180 for Ice Age this year)
* I have been loosely following the Pale Diet again, and my body back to burning fat instead of glycogen. This, I believe, could be me key to solve my stomach problems
* I just feel good. I may not be "trained", but training for that race does not improve your chances all that much.
* Have a chance to relive the epice battle between me, Grub, and Bero.

The Cons
* Could crash and burn (but that is true with any 100)
* Bees
* fill in the blank

I am going up there to have fun. I know the course, I know the race, I know the strategy, I think I could get to finish line. I just might take 35 hours.

Nothing like coming back in style. Leaving the blue tarp at home

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A date with Cindy

"Cindy" is the Crossfit workout as follows

As many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of:

5 pull ups
10 push ups
15 body weight squats.

I managed to pull off 12 rounds today with 2.5 minutes to spare. Probably could have done 1 more round, but was afraid of screwing up something.

Why is this important? Last year when I was "In Shape", I only did 9 rounds. And.....was mocked by Christine Crawford because she could do something like 22 rounds. She only weighs 5 pounds, so she has an advantage.

I am down 10 pounds from Ice Age, I am slowly getting my intensity back, and I feel I could pull something off in the Fall.

Recent news puts me on the cusp of entering a race, but it has "bad idea" written all over it. Kind of makes me want to do it..... because I am not afraid.

Stay tuned..... decision to come soon.

Hey Double....... I will do it if you do it.

Monday, August 1, 2011

More Bumber Sticker Fun

I probably should have done some calculations and figured that a lot of my friends have those 26.2, 13.1, etc. stickers on their cars. Sorry if I pissed you off.

Chris, I have no beef, I just am not into bumper stickers in general.

My wife wanted to put our church sticker on my car (Eagle Brook), which is fine, but what does that actually achieve. If I am going to witness the gospel of Christ, it aint' gonna happen in traffic with the person behind me going "...... okay.... I BELIEVE!". I would rather do it in person.

I kind of get the ones that only a few people would get. Like.... a sticker showing 102.6

Only a select few would get it, and appreciate it.

But.... I only said "I don't get it", not "I hate them"

My bigger beef is with political bumper stickers. Has anybody ever changed their political view based on a bumper sticker? In fact, when I see a lot of bumper stickers on a car expressing a point of view, I usually figure the person is not very happy.

I used to have a Bucknell sticker on my car. Of course, Steve Q asked "Did you go there?" My response was the classic "No, it came with the car when I bought it. Too lazy to scrape it off." I finally did a year or 2 ago.

I don't put my Alma Matter on because I figure nobody gives a crap about where I went to school, so I don't put that sticker on.

Hmmm bumper stickers......

When the Ice Age car pool met up this year, we commented on Julie B's "Ultra" sticker in the white oval. She said "I didn't even put that on". Now that's funny. But she has one of the cooler license plates reading "RUN ON".

So what to do with bumper stickers? I get the comradery thing, but most people I run into in public would not equate 50K with distance. "50" would be even more confusing, and 102.6....... Avagadro's number?


So Voyageur 50M was this weekend. People say it was hot, but what is new? IT IS ALWAYS HOT FOR THAT RACE! Once was enough for me. I still think that it is harder than Superior 50. It may be faster, but the suffering component is way higher.

The Patten/BrotherGrub race to the finish a few years back is looking better and better. There is still debate as to who actually won.

I give a huge Kudos to all who showed up to the start. That is a bear of a race.

I chose not to go as I was in Denver the prior 7 days. Got to do some awesome hiking, rode an Alpine Slide in Breckenridge, and just got to hang out with the eldest boy.

I had to work as well, but I kind of enjoy my work. Ironically, my most productive time was the cocktail reception after a trade show. I guess it is better than real work.


Currently focusing on shedding a few pounds and getting my strength and conditioning back up to potentially do a fall ultra.

Down to 170 from almost 180 at Ice Age. Ouch

Thursday, July 28, 2011

An odd pair of bumber stickers

I was driving down I25 yesterday south of Denver and saw the following bumber sticker

"Sea Level is for Sissies"

I found that to be funny. I got it. Tongue and Cheek.

On the same bumber I then saw one of those white oval stickers with the nubmers

If only I could have pulled up to that guy at a stoplight and said
"Half marathons are for Sissies"

It has been a long time since I have run a half marathon. They are tough because you have to run over your LT threshold. They are tough, but anybody can do them if they put the time and effort into it.

If I had come upon this car at a stoplight, I would have been tempted to say
"half marathons are for sissies"

I don't get those stickers on cars. I have an LPTR sticker on mine, and that is it.

Maybe I am a sissie. I live at only 500 ft.

Good luck to those runnign Voyageur this weekend. If you see Bill P, tell him this is his Sawtooth test.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ultras are not for the water cooler

I use "The Water Cooler" as a metaphor.

Water Cooler = Place where co-workers gather to brag about their recent accomplishments.

It is bad karma to use ultra running accomplishments as your "water cooler" moments. Ultra aint' about that.

Other similar sayings I have for these type of people are

"One and done-ers" = I just want to do one so I can brag to others the rest of my life that I am one of them.
"Belt notchers" = I want to get my belt full of all of these "accomplishment" so I can show the rest of the world how awesome I am.

Okay.... us as bloggers might be accused of this as well. Feel free to fire away.


So a few weeks ago I was on the road, eating dinner at a restaurant/bar. Minding my own business, reading Born to Run.

The dude I sat down next to asks "Whatcha reading?". I show him. He responds by saying (and kind of puffing up his chest) "I have run with that author".

I think the dude expected me to be in awe, but instead I responded with a "cool, well I am a trail runner so I get it". I didn't say that I know a bunch of people who not only have run with him, but know him. And, that I have met a some of the people mentioned in the book.

See.... this guys was showing his stripes as a "water cooler man". And he made the mistake of puffing up his chest more, and in his studliest voice say

"You know, I have run a 100 miler."

I am sure he expected oohhs and aahhss from me. Instead, he got an "awesome, me too". His demeanor changed a little bit. He was a "one and done-er". And he admitted he barely got it done on one of the faster courses with one of the highest completion rates. I said "Any 100 is a huge accomplishment. I have DNF'd more than I have finished.

I don't share my accomplishments, unless asked, as I know what was done yesterday has no bearing on what you can do today. But once he heard my resume (again, he asked), he paid his bill and left.

In Tom Wolf's I am Charlotte Simmons, Wolf describes a street fighter who was taught to always go for nose and knock the guy down who you are fighting. But, 1 out of 100 people you knock down will get back up and fight. Then you are in trouble.

Now, I am not a fighter, but it is a similar analogy. I think I was the 1 in a 100 he has bragged to who wasn't all that impressed.

PLEASE UNDERSTAND - I am impressed with almost all 100 mile runners, just not the ones who brag about it to strangers in a bar.

Okay, I am doing a little chest pounding. But I have to admit, I got a kick out of it. He actually understood what a Sawtooth belt buckle meant.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Learn from success, not failure

Last week I was talking to an someone, and wandered into the subject of nutrition. I tread carefully with people on this subject, as I do a lot of reading on it and consider many opinions and philosophies. I have a hard time buying into "absolutes" and don't buy into major media "hype".

The topic landed on sugar, and this person went on a rampage about how artificial sweetners are so bad for you. Of course, I joked about how great cane sugar is for you. This person did not laugh. "At least it is natural", they said. I responed by saying "in all of my years on the trails, in the countryside, in the south, in the mountains, I have never come across cane sugar naturally in the environment".

They responeded by saying "okay... it is processed, but.............." I don't remember what was said after that, because that is funny in itself. "It is processed, but natural". Watch a video on making sugar from sugar cane, it is hardly something that can happen in nature.

But here is the best part, the person saying this to me was obese. So was this person's spouse. I find it interesting when obese people give advice about diet and excercise.

I know I have mentioned the evil "High Fructose Corn Syrup" here many times. I use this as a benchmark example of people going crazy for the wrong reasons. People think I have said HFCS is good for. I have never said that. I think it is bad. I think it is just as bad as cane sugar. In small amounts, I don't have issues with either. The problems with both are a result of EXCESS, or even moderate consumption.

Fine you can say one is bad, and one is good. I don't care anymore. I consume very little of both.

What does this have to do with the title of the post? I will tell you. Rewind 15 years.

I was with my boss from 15 years ago and we were talking about relationships and marriage. I was newly wed from the prior year, and he gave me some advice. It was capped by
"Trust me, I know... I am on my 3rd marriage".

Wow. You must be a marriage expert.

Okay... I know. You can and should learn from someone's mistakes. But why do they get more credit than a couple who has been married happily for a long time?

I think it is because our society is a pessimist one, in general.

I used to be laughed at for reading motivational books. I figured out a long time ago to learn from successful people, and avoid advice from the not so successful. Sounds easy, right?

Wrong. Every step of my life and career I seem to run into buzz-kills.

Author Marcus Buckingham wrote a great book titled "Now, Discover Your Strengths". He talks about focusing on your strengths, and developing them while minimizing the damage your weaknesses can do. He does not say to improve your weaknesses, just do damage control. The hard part of the strenghts is finding out which ones you are good at. Buckingham help creat The Strength Finder. It is cool, I suggest you try it. Can anybody guess what I am? I didn't know, but all of my co-workers did.

The point of all of this is............

Success is something we must learn from. This applies to running, diet, relationships, etc.

I am reading a couple of books on the above topics, and I am more inclined to buy into the thinking of someone who has shown what they preach through their own results.

My converation with the obese person about my health just could not get out of my head this week... hence, this post.

People think I am "lean" and "fit" due to genetics. They discount all of the hard work, discipline, and lifestyle I choose to live to stay this way. My dad is obese, and he has given me more bad advice about food than many people I know. But I still love him.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

An ultra lifestyle

What do

Super Cushy bike Seats
4 Wheel Drive Sport Utility Vehicles
Nasonex nasal spray
Asics 2080 (1090, 2090, etc... forgot the correct numbers)

all have in common? This is a strech, but these are personal experiences over time which have contributed to my questioning of "conventional wisdom"

As I said in my last post, I finally got around to reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougal. And as I said before, my response to it was "Yeah, I kind of figured some of that out on my own...... the hard way" This post is dedicated to why I agree with a lot of what the book says.

So here it goes.......

Bike Seats
Years ago, I was a bicycle mechanic in Chicago. One of my favorite jobs. Did some selling too, but had to know a lot about all of the products in the store.

At that time in the early 90's, manufacturers began making bike seats which kind of looked like sofas on a post. People went gaga over them. "how soft and comfortable they are" people would say. Everyone wanted them, except for people who actually rode their bikes any significant amount of miles.

The problem was, the seats were horrible. They allowed you to be comfortable, but not in the proper fit for riding. I never saw a serious rider use one. In fact, we all had very narrow, lite, minimalist saddles. If you were fit properly to the saddle (seat) and bicycle, it was actually more comfortable to use a high quality saddle which looked small and uncomfortable, especially if you were going over 20-30 miles.

But the bike revolution was being fueled by the mom and dad who want to go on a 3 mile bike ride with their kids. Thus, the saddles stuck around. But they suck. People still think they are great.

The premise was to give give comfort and solve a problem which really did not exist. People were not comfortbale on their saddles due to many factors. The public saw a cushy seat, and figured they must be comfortable. Add to that the evolution of "Cross Bikes" where the handle bars were higher and allowed the rider to ride upright instead of bent over. In the upright position, all of the weight would land on the lower back, and less power would transfer forward.

People switched to bad form as a result of a "better seat"

4 Wheel Drive
Another job I had in the 90's was selling cars. Yes, I was a car salesman. I have since hung up my polyester suits, white belts, and plaid coats. At that time, 4 wheel drive was becoming fashionable. Everybody seemed to want it (mind you, this was in Los Angeles) and was willing to pay for it. I would ask "do you intend to go off road?" And the answer was always "No, but at least I know I can". 4 wheel drive allowed these people to do crazy things with their cars if they wnated to..... but they never did. The car costed more, it was heavier, and they didn't understand what 4 wheel drive actually did.

I saw early on many bad drivers thinking that this would be a good car for them because it was "safer" because it was "bigger" and the 4 wheel drive somehow gave them better traction and was safer as a result. 4 wheel drive should not be used on dry pavement, and can actually be dangerous to do so in certain cases, but people had in their mind that it was safe. I surmised that many accidents would come over the years due to idiots not knowing how to drive large vehicles. They gained a false sense of security with their 4 wheel drive (for no reason), and never improved their driving skills.

Like the bike seat, they did not focus on the core of their problem - they were bad drivers. Safety lies in you, supplemented by your vehicle.

4 wheel drive is great for what it is intended for, but become something everybody "needed", when they did not need it.


I spent 14 years with one company, which will go nameless. The company was good to me, and I learned a ton in my time there. But I grew to dislike my job, and became not so hot on the company. Stress was the main component in my life, and I grew to dread going to work.

During those later years, I would get sick 2-3 times per year. It was more of a cold, lots of congestion, and would beat me down for weeks. It always happened during the Spring and Fall. I was CONVINCED I had allergies. I saw a couple of allergy doctors, got tested for tons of allergies (was pricked all over my back), and begged them to find out what I was allergic to.

Answer................ Nothing.

"How is that possible?", I asked. They responded by saying it could be something they don't test for, but most likely I just get colds.

Multiple doctors recommended taking a steroidal nasal spray, like Nasonex, as this would allow me to function while my body recovered. They said I should use it continually... like, year round. What?

Now, I have nothing against Nasonex. I am sure it is great at what it does and what it is intended to do, but it was the wrong solution for me. It was a small bandaid on a large problem. I had a hard time believing taking a perscription nasal spray "drug" indefinitely was a solution. I didn't buy it.

Did it work? I don't know. I eventually got better and stopped using it, but I don't know if it speeded recovery.

Eventually, I left the company I was working for. Funny thing happened.... I stopped getting sick. I have not been sick like that for 4 YEARS! Did the job make me sick? Kind of.

I got sick in the Spring and Fall.... peak training times for, at that time in my life, marathons. I exceeded my load factor. Stress + Dumb hard core training + basic anxiety I was having at the time = inexplainable colds. I am 100% convinced of it, but can not prove it as this is purely anecdotal.

Phillip Maffetone writes about inflamation in your body caused by stress and physical activity. When I read this, I thought he was speaking to me. The stress was the killer, the miles pushed me over the limit. 2 years later I was running 70-80 miles per week, and not getting sick. I was stressed, but in a different way. I was not over the limit.

The doctors who perscribed Nasonex for me wanted to feel like they were doing something for me. I acknowledge that get that. But this was not the solution to health. It just was a way to jerry-rig me to keep me functioning instead of making me a healthier person.

Asics road shoes

7 years ago I went out for a run the day after I had run a 20 miler. I got 1 mile and could not even walk. I was 3 weeks out from Twin Cities Marathon, and I could not walk.

I went to see my chirpractor, Fred Clary, and he basically told me my knee cap was not in its correct place due to the fact that my quad muscles were pulling it out of place. My quads were not equally developed.

Sit on the ground with your legs straight out in front of you with your toes pointed up. Flex your quads and watch your knee caps. They should stay relatively in the same place. My right one would move far to the right when I would flex.

I told him I probably needed orthodics, really high tech shoes, and probably some other jibberish. Fred responded by saying "You need me to spend a month with you fixing this, then we can talk about all of that other stuff." He fixed me, but said "I can sell you orthodics, but I don't believe in them. They just band-aid problems and can actually make you worse. You just need to wear different shoes".

The shoes I was wearing allowed me to run in a certain way which built my quad muscles in an unbalanced way. I showed him a pair of my old Asics trail shoes and he said "yeah, run on those".

He almost nailed the problem. He got me on the right track and changed my paradigm, but left out a key piece...... My form was causing the problem, the shoe allowed my form to really be screwed up.

I still run on Asics, just the cheap trail shoes sold at Sports Authority for $50. I buy 1-2 pair per year. I get at least 1000 miles off of each pair. I think I have put 1500 on one before I ripped the heels off (Thanks to the Superior Hiking trail).

Born to Run

Read the book, and come to your own conclusions. My takeaway from the book is not that we have to all run barefoot, but that we have lost our primal love for who we are. It is more of a book on humanity, and how running is a conduit to a better world.

Heck, how do you think someone like Steve Q and I could actually get along on the trails and enjoy each others' company? It is because we are both "running people". Outside of that, we are oppososites.

A significant part of the book is dedicated to the quest of finding out how to run properly, and that the modern running shoes has all but destroyed this. I kind of agree with that, but I don't think it fits all people.

Ultrarunning is a lifestyle. It is not something you do to get bragging rights at the water cooler. I know see rookies out on the trails, wearing "Vibram 5 fingers" out tackling ultras. I am guessing these people have been inspired by the book. Problem is, many are 20 -40 lbs (or more) overweight. They are not living the lifestyle. I am not sure what they are doing, but they are not living the lifestyle.

McDougal is very clear in the book how diet and food in general is an essentail component to the success of the people he documented. But I am guessing those words fell on deaf ears and blind eyes.

Through my ups and downs, I somehow try to maintain "the ultra lifestyle". Sometimes successfully, sometimes not. But that is what makes the sport worth it.

Since my days with that company I had spent 14 years at, I have been through many ups and downs. I have been laid off twice, and faced other significant challenges. But the "ultra lifestyle" has given me a foundation of discipline and mental fortitude to endure many things in life.

Were we born to run? Don't have to ask me twice. Heck yeah. It is a lifestyle.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Possibly out of the slump

I have been in a slump for about a year. A combination of work life, personal life, burnout, etc. made running not something I cared to do a lot of.

And by the quantity of my posts, the blogging became almost extinct.

It just wasn't in me. At one point earlier this year, I seriously considered just stopping it all together. I had lost the passion and fun. But that was the winter blahhhs.

I knew it would come back, I just did not know it would take this long.

I felt the old me start to come back this week. I crossed paths with Keith this week in Dallas. We joined up for a short evening run after work on the Katy Trail in Downtown Dallas. This is like running the lakes in Minneapolis. I haven't run with Keith in probably 2 years, but he reminded me a little of why we run. It was good times (Oh yeah, 2 days over 100, and 1 day 96. I survived).

I came home and just felt like running. Out of nowhere, I got up Saturday and did 8 miles at an 8:15 pace, and it felt normal. A lot better than the 9.5 - 10 minute pace I have been doing. It just kind of clicked.

In addition to the above, seeing Carl G show up to FANS and Wayne Nelson bust out his first hundo, I got the bug to just run.

I also finally got around to reading "Born to Run". After I saw an old lady on a plane tell me why I should read it... I finally did. Great book. I will give my thoughts on a separate post. I kind of felt like "....Yeah..I figured out a lot of the same stuff on my own... the hard way. I agree with almost all of the conclusions"

Nobody has to lay out a case to me that we were born to run, I always had it in my heart. Makes perfect sense to me.

But... not everybody get's it. Hence why I have said before "If you have to ask why, you won't understand the answer".

So I will keep running, and maybe a few more races this year. Because I want to... not because I have to.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Fighting Cancer, Gammon Style

View this picture first
2 years ago during the Voyageur 50 Mile trail run, Carl Gammon took a fall. He crashed hard in the mud and hurt his shoulder. He was covered in mud, and proceeded to take a bath in a river. This picture captures him in a cleaned up state.

But Carl got back up and finished the race. Got up, brushed himself off, and kept going.

Those who know Carl were not surprised. Carl knows how to get up when everybody is saying stay down for a while.

When I first started running with Carl, I learned a story of him beating Prostate Cancer and defying his Doctor's orders by running the Twin Cities Marathon the same year of his surgery. To Carl it is not about showing off, it is about representing and not missing a beat.

Carl is a sort of legend in the Ultra world. He is a member of HURT, owns a coveted yellow shirt from it (shown in the picture), and has one heck of a resume. His 50k PR I believe is just over 4 hours.

I love this picture becaue it captures the essence of friendship. Zach is on the left, and I am on the right. The 3 of us have run countless miles together out at Afton in the worst and best conditions. We have shared countless stories and traveled to races together. Seeing Carl roll into the finish looking like this was priceless.

I received in email mid winter this from Carl which brought tears to my eyes. His cancer was coming back. This hit way too close to home as my mom battled (and beat) breast cancer when I was young. When she had to go through radiation treatments, it scared the hell out of us. It was the only thing I have seen bring my father to tears.

Now Carl was staring it in the face again. Radiation was coming back.

Never once have I heard Carl complain about his performance in a race, his training, or life in general. He headed this on... head on.

He kept us posted about his radiation progress, and how soon he would be done.

Carl finished his radiation treatments, and 10 days later toes the line at the FANS 24 hour timed race.

Talk about getting up and brushing yourself off... Carl brought a new level of awesomeness to the metaphor.

Now he admits he struggled that day and didn't rack up many miles... more than I would have. He showed up alive and kicking.

I guess the big man up above has a lot of plans for Carl on this earth.

So when you think life is hard, things are tough, and you want to piss and moan.... take a page out of the Gammon book. Get your ass up, brush yourself off, and get running.

Carl, you are an inspiration to us all.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Persistence Pays off

Back in 2007 I was heading up to run the Superior 50M trail run. It was going to be my 2nd 50 mile run, but I was dreading it because I knew how hard the Superior trail was.

In the email chain leading up to it, I received a good luck from a guy named Wayne Nelson who was going to be working the Temperance River aid station. He was just getting into this thing, and was volunteering to see what it was all about.

I remembering after finishing, telling him he know has to step up to at least the 50k for next year.

A month later we met up at the Whistle Stop Marathon, and I think he got caught up in my "throw common sense to the wind" attitude and just "run your ass off". He recalled having a rough race.

Wayne chipped away at the distances over these years, nailing off 50k's. Almost every race I have been to, Wayne has either been running or graciously volunteering. As a result of his commitment and attititude, he received the Upper Midwest Trail Runner of the year award (along side Helen.... not bad) for his involvement.

Wayne was unlike many runners, though. He showed up to a lot of races, but also struglled in a lot of races. He got some done, dropped out of some. But never did you hear one peep of self pity from that guy. He just stayed at it.

After 2 drops at the 100 mile distance, most would probably avoid the distance. Not Wayne. Attempt #3 was last weekend at KM 100. When I saw what the forecast was (80's.. which means 90s in the prairies), I thought Wayne was doomed. Sorry, that was the truth.

I got home from my blue tarp experience to find Wayne was right on trak. OK. good.

By bedtime, a lot of great runners had dropped out at the 100k point. Wayne was still in.

I woke up to find him having made it to about mile 80. Holy Cow! He might make it.

Soooo many people were dropping out, but somehow the tenacious Wayne was showing he had the Mojo.

Wayne came in at 29:30 (or just under), 44th out of 122 starters! Truly an awesome accomplishment.

By all accounts the weather was very difficult. But if you got the mojo, you got the goods, and he got it done.

It just goes to show this sport is not for everybody. But if you have the thought, the tenacity, the persistence, the patience, and the mojo, anything can happen.

Great job Wayne. You inspired me.

..... and the other inspiring story from the weekend gets a separate post

can you say "Prostate cancer? Hell no.... that won't stop me!"

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Blue Tarp comes back

I pulled a "Blue Tarp" at the Chesterwoods 50K.

Blue Tarp is a euphemism for "Did not finish".

After running multiple extra miles in the middle of the race, I was losing ground on everyone and everything. At 3.5 hours, I was still far away from any idea of when I would finish and the heat was punishing me. My legs were not working well, and I was not in the right mind to beat out 2-3 hours of heat hell for a finish.

Next time I will know the course before I run it.

Bill Pomerenke beat my 50K PR with a 5:10. He has bragging rights now.

I led Zach Pierce down many incorrect miles. He threw in the towel as well after figuring out how far we still had to go.

I had my 1 opportunity to beat the fastest Matt. He was going to drop, but decided to stay in knowing he would never live it down if I finished.

Darn! I should have put together a good race. Oh well....

Friday, June 3, 2011

You might be an ultra runner if.......

At 2pm on Friday you are talking to a fellow runner, and get convinced that running a 50k the next day is a good idea.

Going for the Chester Woods 50k manana.

Funny thing is..... this very well could be my 50K pr.

$20 race day entry. That is less than $1 per mile!

And..... The Fastest Matt will be there.

I am going to see how long I can hang with him.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ice Age 50. 30th Anniversary, 5th time

Twas the night before Ice Age, and all through the house (palace)
The wind and rain were abundant
And I was [insert rhyme for house].


I start here, because I lay there Friday night, trying to sleep, thinking "I don't want to be here. I don't want to go through what is inevitable to come tomorrow. I really just want to go home."

I almost gave up on this race before it even started. I was disappointed with myself in my lack of discipline to train and eat properly for the last few months. My final long run 2 weeks ago revealed the reality, I was not in the shape I wanted to be.

With this in mind, I threw out all of my old expectations. I decided not to wear a watch, and my plan was to go out mid pack and just cruise. I would pace, not race.

All of this being said, I ended up with a good race. I was slower than last year, but ran a better race. But the problems of no long runs past 25 miles sure became evident around mile 38. The final 12 were lonely, cold, and literally gut wrenching. But I was VERY happy to cross the finish line. I came in at 10:23.


I traveled down to the race with an interesting mix of talent and experience. All of us were former Ice Age 50m finishers.

Julie Berg, who is coming off of a hysterectomy surgery from last year, was stepping back into ultra racing. Julie is a legend in Minnesota, and an inspiration to runners all over the US.

Alicia Gordon was back to Ice Age with new goals for the year and a great attitude to have along in the car. Alicia is one of the "behind the scene" heros in MN racing.

I first met these 2 back in 2007 at the famous "Bohdan's Fat Add/terenchal down pour" run. I shortly there after decided to try my first 50... Ice Age.

Bill Pomerenke was a different man then he was 2 years. 30 lbs lighter, and better trained. He put in a ton of work over the winter, and was ready to put it all to the test.

But Ultras & Trail Running have a wild card which is tough to figure out sometimes. We all ended up with tough day. Unfortunately, I was the only one to come home with a belt buckle. It is hard to see others fall when so much work and emotion have been put on the table.

But I think it is this wild card that draws us to these events. There is always a strong possibility of DNF.


After a nice Friday night stay at one of the local elites "lake cabin", we showed up to overcast skies and a forecast for scattered showers. No sun today. No temps over 55 or so. Can we just get 1 day this year of good weather running?

At the start, we listened to the announcements of one who was here to run his 25th Ice age 50. And Lorraine Bunk was going to be the first 70 year old woman to finish. She did. Think about that. 70 years old, 50 mile trail run in 11:48. Tom, her husband, was with her the whole way.

The race started, and the day was on. My biggest worry was when my legs would start hurting. I had run zero miles in the last 2 weeks.

I hung with Alicia for a while, and we met up with Paul Hasse, another MN runner. It was nice to just relax and not get so amped up to worry about a time.

The Nordic Loop (9 miles) came and went, and I was off to the real course. Sooner then later I felt minor cramps in my legs. My body did not feel comfortable, but I was fine. I met up with a ton of people. Some had an ultimate goal this year of Sawtooth. I was in their shoes a few years ago. I wished them luck.

The way down to mile 20 became tough. I just did not feel comfortable, I was sore, but I was still mobile. I was not sick to my stomach.. yeah!

Sandee Lammers took care of me at the next aid station. She said I was not eating enough, and to just take a few minutes and get some food in me. She was right. I just needed food. She could tell just by looking at me. She even offered me a beer. I considered it, but thought it was way too early to be metaphorically throwing in the towel. Although, how comical would it be to cruise by a runner sipping out of brew bottle.

I slowly came back to normal in the next section and rolled into mile 26 in shock. Bill had dropped due to severe cramping [Bill, this blog is open for you to write a race report. You should do it]. After yelling at him to get his chip back on and get his ass back on the course, I decided to let things roll as they should. I moved on.

I felt better. It was here I really started to heed my own strategy of "I can do okay by experience and strategy along". I knew there spots and sections which would wreck the first timers. One was coming.

It was that point that John from Milwaukee came up behind me yelling "man, it is lonely out here!" I think he was looking for company. He was a first timer. He was ready to push on, but was also asking a lot of questions and was looking for some advice. I gave him a few of my rules.

1 - Get comfortable dude! If you are not feeling right, do what you need to get back to feeling right. If you are comfortable, happy, and feeling good, your mind stays in tack
2 - At this point in the race (around mile 27 or 28), you should still be cruising. Don't push it. Run under that pushing level. Feel like you are having to hold yourself back.

Funny... when one starts preaching.. one tends to think "maybe I should practice what I preach".

I told him I saw a guy who was burning up energy left and right, hooting and hollaring too much, running up all but the big hills. I said "I guarantee we see him before mile 37".

We saw him literally 5 minutes later, completely trashed.

I think it clicked for John at that point.

I also said, "we are now at the point where the experienced runners have the advantage, not the talented ones. We will start picking off people at around 33 miles."

Sure enough, we starting picking people off. We were on a perfect pace, everything was running as it should, and I felt good again. We made it up to 37 with that even pace.

Then I told him one of the most important rules

3 - Run your own race

We rolled into 37 aid station (horseriders) to some rain. I saw Brothergrub and tried to give him a sweaty hug. He yelled and ran. His wife made some awesome coconut chocolate bars. Thanks Mrs. Grub!

John led us out of there and he was ready to go. I said to go for it and run your own race. At this point in a 50, you should put it all on the table. Who cares if you blow up at 45, you are almost done.

He took off, my stomach started turning, and it was a slugfest to mile 40. I was not happy.

At mile 40 I saw John again hanging at the aid station. I called for a time check and it was 8 hours and 12 minutes. I yelled at him to go. "10.5 minute pace gets you under 10 hours". Funny how some people question what they are capable of at those points, so I started yelling at him to run.

I tell the details of my interaction with John, because so many people have done the same for me over the years. I finally got to pay it forward.

I left, and slugged for the next 3 miles. I had a few dry heaves (my #1 killer issue aside from dehydration). I just had to get to horsies.

I saw the Bunks somewhere in there and could tell they would probably make the cut, but it would be close. They looked in way better shaped then I did.

I rolled into Horsies to find Julie had dropped a while back. I was sad for her. And sad in general. I just wanted to be done. Wayne Nelson caught a funny picture of me just moping out of there.

Shortly after I saw Alicia coming towards Horsies, and she said she was timed out. Another bummer. Damn! We talked briefly.

The next few miles were lonely. Nobody. Where the hell was everybody?

Around halfway through that section, Marcel Uttech (Lapham dude on his first 50M) cam FLYING by me. Ran up the next hill. All I remember was his chisled frame taking off away from me. The dude is ripped. I was happy for him. Cool guy. Went straight to ultras without running a marathon. Smart move.

When I finally made it to the last A/S, I found Tony (another Lapham dude on his first 50). I said "I can't stand to be on this course for 1 extra second. I am running" I really wanted to be done.

Like any 50, the final strech was great. All the pain goes away, all the sound went away and I ran as hard as I could until I could hear the glorious sound of the beep from the timing mat.

10:23 and I was happy. I ran on experience, strategy, and a little bit of raw talent.

I don't remember much for a while, but Wayne and Vicki caught some pictures which many found amusing.

And my buddy John, he pulled out a 9:52. I think he said that was out of the questions around mile 28. Strategy=results. Way to go John.

I could not eat, or enjoy any of the good beer. We went home and I crashed. Hard.

Post Race

I sent an email to Arley Anderson (MN runner), who ran a 7:48 (I think) saying "congrats, doing this makes me want to get in shape again". He found that very amusing.... running a 50 Miler to get conviced to get back in shape.

What I meant by it was, I almost needed a serious kick in the ass to get back to discipline. I suffered from 38 to 50, plus the 2 days after. I have never felt such a beat down after a 50 (well, I probably felt this way after Voyageur).

Seeing people I used to race around kick some butt inspired me to get rethink my attitude.

As much as I said I was done with these in the hours after this one, I feel "hardened" and better today.

Well, that is what "Type B Fun" is all about, isn't it.

Please excuse all of the rambling, poor grammar, and typos. Just wanted to get it out.

Oh yeah........ I was THE SLOWEST MATT!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Saturday April 30th. 6am visitor center parking lot.

Be there if you want to have some fun trail running.

Shooting for 50K

Monday, April 11, 2011

Zumbro fun

I have to tell you, Ultras can be a lot more fun when you are not actually running.

Last Friday, I was enjoying a day off, chilling in a camp chair, drinking a brew, chatting with some cool folks. I said, "This is what trail running is all about".

I did end up running a few miles, but it was a quest to find some runners looking for some bonus miles early in the race.

The long and short of it......

I am glad I was not running in the event. I had no business being out there running.

It is a great learning experience to watch these races unfold. You see runners early in the race at different levels of effort, sweat, state of mind, etc.

I even mentioned to one runner, Adam Shwartz-Lowe, "Dude.. relax... you are on a crushing course speed with considerable talent behind you".

Matt Aro, one of the faster Matt's, was behind him at that point only by a few minutes. It was about mile 23, I was about to head home, and was sorry I could not see this battle unfold.

With a finish at Badwater last year, I figured Aro was the most dangerous guy out there.

But... Adam didn't want to have anything to do with that, and preceeded to tear up the course, setting a course record by about an hour and a half.

Great job Adam!

Adam even had a "pacer", but I am not sure who paced who. Maybe the pacer was slowed a little because he was seen drinking a "getting chicked ale" around 2pm at the start/finish area before his pacing duties.

And great job to Matt Aro, Shane from Arizona (ran an extra 4 miles on the first loop, and still managed a killer time), to Gnarly Bandit Daryl for avoiding the blue tarp of death.. and Lynn for almost chicking Daryl.

Grandpa G, for getting out there and showing us that 59 is the 29... you rock!

Great job to master Taylor on a 30th finish of 100+ mile races.

Also a shout out to Aron Schneider (the only Lapham representation), Brian Woods, Susan D, Rob A, Kurt N, and a bunch of others I am forgetting.

Thanks to Bill P for all of the sacrifice of setting up and managing aid station for the better part of 3 days.

And John Storkamp and Larry. You guys rock.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

In case you were wondering....

Not running Zumbro. Below are my lame excuses.

Lame Excuse #!

= Bad timing.

Lame Excuse #2

= I am not in the shape I would like to be. I don't like entering races "just to do it". I am just not there

Lame Excuse #3

= The family really wants me home on my birthday night. And, would like to do some family stuff on Saturday.

100's don't just soak up 20-40 hours of race time, but days of prep and weeks of recovery.

I have only returned home from 1 hundred where I was not a total mess. Once I was taken to urgent care 1/2 hour of returning from a race. AH probably has a fond memory of it, dumping me in my driveway with a swollen lower leg and a bubble full of bee venom.

So that's it. I will be volunteering. I will have coffee brewed at 7am at the start.

Maybe some pictures or video will be taken. Good luck to those who are running

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Heat Acclimation & Pondering Life

2 Posts in one

I received a photo from my wife showing 10 inches of snow, and a -2 on the car thermometer on the way to school this morning.

Me... I was (and still am) enjoying mid 80's in Houston/Austin/San Antonio. I would feel bad, but I am the man brining home the bacon. You know.... the guy working so hard his fingernails are worn out. Okay.. I have it easy.. I am a salesman. But still... I do what many can't.

I ran Tuesday night in San Antonio at the Emile and Friedrich Park. That is an awesome little loop. Lots of rocks, but warm and fun.

Took Wednesday off (because I really did work hard).

Thursday - Ran around the streets of North Houston.

What was strange was... I ran 7-8 miles, and it felt like nothing. I ran slow, but this new form conserves energy really well.

Which brings me to Zumbro. I feel like I "should" do it, but I just don't want to suffer. Every morning I wake up and say "no way", but by the evening I think "I could do it". My body forgets how much suffering is involved in these, and I know that could be an issue.

I had great advice last weekend on the long run. John T(a MN legend), told me "You could do it relaxed and fun - mid pack, but only you can decide if you have that in you". John understands that some people (me) just can't run a race where they put it all on the line. It was not a compliment or insult, just the plain reality.

I hate showing up to races unprepared. Actually, I never show up to races unprepared. I just don't show up if I am not ready. In 100's, nobdoy is truly "ready", just like having kids. You just have to pull the pin and go for it. But one can be prepared, and that is a loaded word.

If it were not my 40th birthday, I would say "no way". But something just keeps tugging at me saying "what a way to turn 40". Many people sit on their ass and celebrate walking up the steps to work. Many people fear turning 40 or complain about it. I am actually looking forward to it. I hated being a kid, and always wanted to be a grown up. For me, it might be a way to show people "I am just getting started...pal".

My marriage has never been stronger than it is now. I have a beatiful, awesome wife. I have 4 great kids. I enjoy my work more than I ever have. There is minimal (if any) doom on the horizon. God has given me many gifts I don't deserve. Life is great.

Maybe one of my gifts is being a testament to living a happy life, and enjoying it in a symbolic way. This would actually give me purpose and motivation to do Zumbro more than anything.

There were times in the last 4 months when I thought I was done with Ultra running. Seriously. One morning I woke up and actually said "I am done'.

Maybe my "competitive" days are over. But to me "competitive" is relative.

There are only a finite number of "blue tarps" out there, and I already have my fair share.

More to ponder

Friday, March 18, 2011

28 years late to a U2 concert

I was in Denver this week and connected with Joe Z (former resident of MN....) for a nice and easy run in the foothills of Denver. Okay... easy for Joe, but a beatdown for me.

Cruised through one of the many parks in the area, climbing from 6000ft, breathing hard. Joe asks "you ever seen Red Rock?".

Me - "No.. but lets go". I knew it right away as the cover of U2's "Under a Blood Red Sky".

It is quite a site to see. But the stairs... the stairs would even make brothergrub and taterTodd cry for help. This picture does not do it justice

But the view was worth it. Joe even said "we have to take the stairs to earn the view"

This picture really does not capture the beauty, but it gives you an idea. And.. I stole these off the internet.

It felt good to run hard. It has been over 2 weeks of abrupted sleep with coughing and just no energy.

I managed to miss only 1 day of running this week, and I have plans for Sat and Sun.

Saturday I am running with old man Jim. Luckily he is recovering from surgeries or I would be dreading tomorrows run.

Sunday is the Afton opener for me. If I can bust out 31 miles there, I very well might sign up for Zumbro.

Anybody interested in joining us, be at the parking lot at 6am for the 1st loop, or 9am for the 2nd. (unless the trails are too slushy and muddy.

I am having a pint of "Confusion Corner Coffee Stout" as I write this. I came out nice, but needs a few weeks to mellow out. "Getting Chicked Ale" came out real nice. Gives a nice bitter taste... just like the guy on the label was feeling

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Proper consideration goes out to "brothergrub" of the Lapham Peak Trail Runners. He made this label.

Still working on Confusion Corner Coffee Stout

On the running front, been sick all weekend.

Might try to do a long run next weekend as a deciding factor about Zumbro. Anybody interested in heading down there next weekend for a long run?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Woes of Ultrarunning

At this time of year it is easy to look at the calendar and say "I want to do all of these races"

It is easy to get the juices flowing. All memory is gone from the pain and suffering from the prior years' races. All of the training suffering is far removed from memory.

I keep thinking Zumbro is strong maybe for me, but then I head out for a long run as I did today but the engine just does not produce like it used to.

I hit the Minneapolis Lakes circuit this morning at 5am and found.... I was the only one out there! Oh well.

First 10 miles felt great, but then I became wet & cold. My right knee started hurting, and I threw in the towel at 15. I just did not want to do anything stupid this early in the season. I think the pavement and ice made the body hurt.

This leads me to the realization that these race take more than the "yeah... I am game for that" attitude. It takes a lot more. Hence the woes. One must balance pushing the body while not destroying it. At the same time, one has to push himself mentally while also not trashing the psyche and burning out.

After today I am reminded that "it is a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll". 6 weeks left to train for Zumbro is a stretch, but not out of the question. I am just not sure I want to voluntarily go into that suffering.

If it were warmer, I am sure I would feel up for it.

So the Woes

Realizing at the end of a long run "you ain't done nothing compared to what the race will ask"
Staying consistent.

Time to get my big boy pants on.

Friday, February 25, 2011

One decision is final

Submitted my registration for Ice Age 50. 30th year of the event, 5th year in a row, first year as a master.

With only 27 spots left (now 26), it was just something I had to do.

Still on the fence about Zumbro. I might bring it up with the Mrs. this weekend. I should probably start seriously training for it as well.

I really should

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Brew Pictures


33 LBS of mash

The Boys Blowing off Krausen

And I was ridiculed for not running this weekend

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Confusion Corner Coffee Stout

Tomorrow, instead of running, I will be brewing

"Confusion Corner Coffee Stout"
"Turning 50 miles into 53 for 30 years"

Thank you to Brother Grub for the artwork and slogan.

The anticipated SG on this baby is 1.084!

That will be 8% Alcohol by volume.

Formulated the recipe with a little consultation from the boys at Northern Brewer.

It will be infused with some Peet's Coffee, but not sure yet which coffee variety exactly.

This one is sure to make you take a wrong turn and create confusion.

May post pics

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Potential + Vitamins + Dreams


Yes, that is one word summing up today. POTENTIAL

I received... okay was copied on an email last week about a run with "The Boys" out at Labanon Hills Park in Eagan, MN. I get these cursory copies because people know I will have a boiler plate/lame excuse of "I can't because (fill in lame excuse here)"

My response to "Wilson" was, "Maybe if you gave me more than 24 hours notice, I could make it". His response, "Okay, next week, same time, same place"

Zach was even surprised to see that I agreed to be running.

So it was 20 miles today on snow packed rolling hills.

Awesome! Considering it was my longest run Since IA50 LAST MAY, I was happy to go 10. But here is the better part: I have been working on new form. I call it the "not so quite POSE Running Method". I am probably 80% there. I was worried my feet would not make it 20. I knew my quads and calves could, but the feet are completely different in this form.

They made it. I am barely even sore, and I was only crapping out at the end. Which means...... I am not as out of shape as I thought.

It is February 12th, and I feel I am well on the road to being back in shape..... I just wish I knew of any races I could do.


I have been mildly, if not downright, depressed for a few months now. Nothing major, just "This weather sucks" moods. I have had zero desire to run. I even woke up a few weeks ago and thought "I think my running days are over". I had no desire to go run. I was enjoying being a sloth. Not really.

My wife had a checkup with the doc this week and the dock said "Your vitamin D is WAY low". You need to be taking supplements. I figured I would pop a few of dem' pills.

Magic. 4 hours after taking one, I actually felt happy. I actually had desire. I took them with Fish Oil pills.

A feel like a new man.


If any of you are on the MN Deadrunners email group, you already saw this, but here is the email I sent out to the group.

Since this group has been very quiet lately, I will give you something to think about and help me with.

Here is a synopsis of my dream last night.

* I signed up for Zumbro 100.
* I showed up completely unprepared. No gear, no water bottles, no headlamp, etc. (yeah, I know... that is reality)
* I had to go finish up a sales call the University where Zumbro was taking place. ????
* I looked at my watch at the end of the call, and saw I had 5 minutes to get to the start.
* I receive a text message from Larry Pederson that I have 5 minutes to get to the start or I am out of the race
* I have to run to the start on the other side of that Schools' campus, which..... coincidentally is in the middle of Civil War re-enactment... with live ammunition
* I did not make it in time.
* I woke up soon there after

The strangest thing I found from this dream was the fact that I got a text message from Larry. I would have expected morse code, or some cryptic Ham (Lake) Radio message.

I turn 40 on April 8 this year, which coincidentally is the race day for Zumbro. Does this mean I have some deep rooted issues? I thought all of my issues were pretty up front and center.

Hope everybody is doing well and surviving this crappy winter.

Matt Patten
Ham Radio Lake, MN

I will share some of the responses later, but the synopsis was "I have to run Zumbro 100"

So I decided to see where I was physically by throwing buildup miles to the wind, and bust out a 20.

No problem.

Now I just have to do another one of those, a 30, and maybe a 40. And I still probably won't be prepared.

But that is running.