I see dry land

Plans had been made, babysitters had been arranged, and I had been looking forward to running the Gary Bjorkland Half Marathon (part of Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN) since last June. Unfortunately the lottery system was not in our favor, f-bomb.

Conspiracy theory alert:  If you pay to have the race packet shipped to you – then you get in!  Huh?  This is not based on fact and as far as I know is not true, but it sounds plausible.  The best thing about conspiracy theories is they take random events and give you somebody to blame for them.   Not being selected in the race lottery goes from bad luck to a plot by evil race organizers that charge a lot for the “handling” portion of shipping and handling.  I mean come on why would I pay you to ship my packet?  What conspiracy theories do not do, is get you into your race.

So it was back to the drawing board, I need a Half Marathon for June.  My wife and friends (not named here to protect them from the rath of the Gary Bjorkland race directors that now know I am onto them) need a reason to get out-of-town for the weekend and a race to train for.  Enter The Sour Grapes half Marathon in Brainerd, MN.  Here is an excerpt from their website:

“The Sour Grapes half & half run first started in 2001.  A group of runners were unable to secure a spot in the Grandma’s Marathon for that year.  As a result, they decided to organize a run that would be fun, challenging and a means to enjoy the company of other enthusiastic runners; hence, the birth of Sour Grapes half & half.”

Hey that sounds perfect!  Did I mention each finisher gets “a unique finisher token” and it costs $45 less than Bjorkland?  Where do I sign up?

Right here actually: http://www.sourgrapesrun.com/

So it is almost spring, which means rain melting snow, slippery roads and sidewalks covered in puddles.  I love it.  The extra daylight plus temps around or above freezing make running seem easier.  Plus other runners and bicyclist out and about in my neighborhood, which always help keep me going.  I got in 6 miles yesterday morning ahead of the rain that fell for most of the day.  Even before the rain I ended up running down the middle of some side streets to avoid the icy, very cold puddles that were taking over the sides of the street.

I spent most of the run trying to decide if I should upgrade to the new Brooks Trance 12, I love buying running stuff – that should be its own blog soon, I determined I could muddle through the rainy season with the Trance 11’s I already have (dear wife, look at the sacrifices I make for our family. Your welcome).  I also thought through what I want to accomplish at the Get Lucky Half Marathon next week.  I had been looking at slowly building up to the Grandma’s Half Marathon in June but as outlined above that isn’t happening, seriously I am totally over not getting picked.  I did not come to a conclusion before my six miles were up and I was confronted with a one year old that wanted to hang out with me at home.  Fortunately, I have two more runs this week to decide if I am trying to push my pace or keep building toward a fast run in the coming months.  Hopefully there will be some dry pavement this week, I would hate to ruin my shoes 🙂



Sometimes in winter

About 10 minutes before we pulled into the parking lot Matt casually mentioned he was hoping the path didn’t have too much snow on it.  We were out in Independence, MN to run a nice 6.2 mile loop, and assuming things went well we were going to get two laps in.  We did one, kind of on the path.

After a couple of weeks of our schedules not matching up I was finally able to take Matt up on his offer to get in a Sunday run.  I was a little nervous, Matt is way faster than I and I never run with other people.  This was probably the third or fourth time I have specifically run with a person or group in the almost two years I have been running.  I think that is one of the best things about running, you need your running gear and time – that’s it.  No trying to coordinate schedules, no needing a specific place to play; just shoes, shorts, shirt and go.

The path didn’t look promising, at least the path to get to the path, it was covered in 6-8 inches of snow with a couple sets of tracks from others that had walked it.  This was not fluffy white, freshly fallen snow.  This was snow that has melted and refroze everyday the past week.  So you get a thin layer of ice and clumpy uneven snow underneath.  The kind of snow that crunches when you walk, terrible – terrible noise, and tests your knees and ankles stability.  This is what you get in March in Minnesota, Uh oh.

The good news, it looked like the loop had been “groomed”.  Much like a ski hill gets groomed to take out the bumps and even things out the cross-country ski trail and the loop trail looked like they had work done, so Matt and I decided to give it a go.  For the first 3ish miles it was much the same, tread lightly stay on top of the ice layer give those stabilizer muscles a workout and enjoy the wintery scene.  Then suddenly the groomed trail stopped, and we were back to 6 – 8 inches on uneven snow described above.  For reasons that you won’t get if you don’t run, we decided to keep going anyway.

For a good half mile we slogged single file through the snow, our pace slowed but we keep it moving, again no idea why we thought this was reasonable or how neither of us ended up with a sprained ankle or knee.  But we made it to a point where the path intersected the cross-country skiing trail again and since it was groomed we decided that would be preferrable.  I will say the experience gave me a new appreciation for those that do trail running.  The uneven footing and constant changing of the elevation was both exhausting and made the time go by incredibly fast.  We put in one full loop and agreed it was time to take our run to the streets.  After running though the snow running on the asphalt felt really odd, or maybe it was just all the muscles in my legs that I take for granted revolting against me.  Either way I was able to get four more miles out of them, and even walk to the park and back with my daughter this afternoon.

Ten miles for the day, a chance to catch up with a friend (plus get some running tips) and a new appreciation for people who can run where there isn’t a smooth road made for a good Sunday.  Looking back I am still not sure why we decided to run the trail, but I am glad we did, maybe there is something to this running with others thing.


Tempo Blog (what happened to Thursday edition)

What happened?!?  It’s Friday (awesome!) already, and I have no idea what happened to my week.  Sometimes;  work + kids + life = Help!  This was one of those weeks.  So I am dusting off a favorite quote to get some focus back.

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take  your eyes off your goal.”
Henry  Ford

I hit the road yesterday under overcast and rainy skies.  I checked my Nike + stats and see I have not run in the rain since June!  I don’t actively avoid the rain (I actually like it) so that gives you an idea what the weather has been in MN these past months.

One of my favorite things about running is all the awesome gear you purchase.  A run in the rain meant breaking out my trusty Brooks running jacket, my “mudder” shoes and running hat.  Maybe I am the only one that gets excited by purchasing or using my running gear?  I bet not though.

Evelinruns put out a call for others to post their top 3 running songs on her blog (check it out: http://evelinruns.wordpress.com/2012/10/17/top-3-runningworkout-songs-1/) so I am posting mine.  I am not hip with the kids anymore so I usually find music by word of mouth any suggestions no matter the style are welcomed here.

The current three songs that give me some extra pep on my run:

“The Sky” (Club Mix) – Mat Zo.  Techno dance track probably not for everybody.  Best at volumes that are not safe for human ears.

“Rain” – Bloodgroup.  Chill music that is great for starting out slowly or refocusing after a whole bunch of up tempo beats.

“Regret” – New Order.  Going back to the early 90’s here.  This was the first song that came on during my run yesterday and I forgot how much I like this one.  It got put right at the top of the playlist for Sunday.

So what are you listening to?

Good race karma, and new shoes!

A few years back I was introduced to the idea of “good river karma”.  I had just finished white water rafting with my wife and two of our friends and we were all on a clunker of an old school bus back up to our starting point.  We were bouncing along a gravel road, recapping our adventure when the bus slowed.  I will be honest, my first thought was that the bus was not going to make it.  The driver announced we were picking up two more passengers that were not part of our group because it was “good river karma” to help out your fellow rafter/kayakers.  It is hard to say this was a life changing moment but it was definitely stuck with me through the years.

When I started running last year I tried to live up to the spirit of “good river karma”.  Saying “hi” to my fellow runners, making sure my Gu packets don’t end up on the ground and waving to cars that are kind enough to stop for me.  Basically I have tried to have good manners and show my thanks to others that exhibit them.  Once I started running in organized races (I am never really racing anybody but myself so using the word “race” always seems a bit off) I updated my terminology to “good race karma”.  It follows the same logic that we had on the bus that day.  If you look out for your fellow runners, the spectators on the course and most importantly the volunteers, you will bank some good race karma.  Here are some things I try to do:

  • Say thank you anytime I interact with a volunteer (packet pickup, water stops, bag check, finish line, police officers or other volunteers holding traffic and anybody trying to give me food or beverages after the race) always shocks me that not everybody is doing this.
  • High five kids along the route (not all of them if there is a big crowd and preferably the ones with gloves)
  • Try to respond to spectators cheering me on.  If you say “looking good runner(s)” I will mostly likely come back with “feeling good spectator(s)”.
  • Be respectful of the others runners space when possible.

This is not an exhaustive list, and I am always looking to add to it.  What to you do for “good race karma”?

I went out for my morning run in my new shoes!  I am trying out the Saucony Guide based on some recommendations.  I have been wearing a pair as walking around in shoes but never run in them, that plus they are substantially cheaper than the Trance 11’s I have been running in.  So we are giving them a go and my first impression was great!  They are lighter weight then and fit my feet well.  I did not have any new shoes issues like blisters or foot/ankle/knee pain.  I would not try to recomend shoes to anybody, because everybody is different, but so far so good for me. They are also way flashier then what I usually run in (see photo above with pair after pair of white/blue shoes).  I ended up with a color called ViZi Pro orange and I think the name accurately describes the shoe.

Have you seen my new shoes?  Yeah, you can’t miss them I guess.

Mankato Half Marathon right around the corner now.  Weather is looking great, and the course is looking fast.  I am feeling a slow, but with my banked good race karma, some additional high fives and well-timed “thank you’s” you never know.  Maybe I can knock out a fast time.

Do your running shoes get jealous?

Today was the last hurrah for my first pair of Brooks Trance 11 running shoes.  After 332 miles (yes I keep track) they just aren’t the same anymore.  Not as mush bounce, not as soft a landing and most importantly I feel it in my feet and knees when I run in them now.  We went out for an eight mile race pace run (much better this time, thanks for asking) and by mile three it was clear we were on our last non rainy day run together.

After eight months of training, including a couple 20+ mile runs, they are being replaced just 2 weeks out from the big day (Twin Cities Marathon in 14 days!).  I suppose they knew it would happen eventually.  I would get suckered in by some newer fancy shoes.  All the goods times we had just couldn’t compete with the younger, flashier, and more cushy shoe.  Today was that day.

Maybe I should feel bad about the whole thing, I mean two weeks away and I am dumping my shoes.  I thought about it and am rationalizing the decision in four parts:

1)  We had some good times together, including a PR in the Half Marathon. (the Half Marathon portion of Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN)

2)  They are the pair of shoes most prominent in my header photo

3)  We both knew this would happen eventually, dragging it out for a painful (especially for my feet and knees) 26.2 miles wouldn’t solve anything

4)  Running shoes don’t actually have feelings

Before you get to worried about my sanity, I do have a pair of the exact same shoes, with about 100 miles on them, ready to roll (Meet the new shoes, same as the old shoes).

Only five more runs to go before the big day.  I have officially entered the “was it enough” portion of Marathon training.  I know I can’t do a whole lot at this point, running wise, to increase my performance.  So was the speed work I put in during the spring enough (I use “speed” here very loosely)?  Were my long runs long enough?  Did I do enough long runs?  Will I be able to come up with clever replies for the spectators?  Until October 7th I won’t know for sure.