Monday, February 21, 2011

My Weekend

Saturdays Group Run
This weeks group run was 10 miles from the downtown Y.  The route took us north along the marathon route and a bit past the dome to get our distance in. This week Rick was kind enough to mark the route ahead of time so we wouldn't get lost like the previous week.  A couple of miles into the run a pack formed with Kris, Maria, Rick, Erin and myself.  Our pack held together for the rest of the run and we were joined on the way back by Eric and Mark.  I love when a good sized pack forms.  As you run you tend to speed up and slow down periodically.  The natural pace variations within the group causes people to drift within the group, giving you the opportunity to talk with different people as you run. The conditions were cold but the roads were mainly dry after the warm up the week before.  When we got back to the Y I stopped to use the bathroom and headed out for my bonus miles.  Erin drove home from the Y, but I had planned to run the 8.5 miles home to get in a little extra. Starting out on my own I quickly found a comfortable pace and headed in the general direction of home.  I hadn't really thought about what route I would take until now so I passed the time by thinking of different ways to get home.  I had managed to stay on top of fueling and hydration so far and was feeling good 13 miles into my run. I decided I'd head over to the Old Milwaukee Trail again as that route worked well last week. As I neared mile 15 I began to feel fatigued. I focused on drinking more and had a few shot blocks and some endurolytes.  I let myself do some walking, but tried to limit it to short periods. The run was starting to get unpleasant, but my goal was to push through the ugliness and finish strong. I felt like my pace was slowing down, but in reality it was speeding up as I went.  I started to think of what I wanted to eat when I was done and remembered Stewarts Deli had beer cheese soup today. I decided that we'd hit up the deli and I'd get soup and my normal sandwich with a few additions; bacon, pepper jack cheese, and more bacon. Thinking about the upcoming meal I finished the run very strong.  Without digging into my past logs too much I'm confident this is the fastest I'd ever covered this particular distance. I was tired and a little sore, but the sandwich afterward made it all worth while.

Sundays Gear Test
Friday night Erin and I went shopping for some new gear.  I had one a few challenges on The Daily Mile and had some Visa gift cards to use up. We wound up each getting a Sugoi jacket made with their firewall fabric. We were both excited to try them out, but thought Saturdays long run would be a poor time to try out something new. Sunday morning was 8° with the wind around 20 mph out of the N.  Not the most fun to be running in, but great weather to test out gear in. Leaving the house I didn't have a route or goal distance in mind.  I figured I'd see how things went after doing 18 the previous day and how warm I was able to stay.  After a mile or two I decided that I'd shoot for a 10 mile run.  That would get me to 51 miles for the week, the same amount as the previous 2 weeks.  The route I chose had me running into the wind for the first half of the run.  The wind was strong enough that I could feel it slow my pace, it felt like running up a hill all the way until the turn around point.  The jacket was supposed to be wind proof, but it felt like some of the wind was making it through.  I was a little under dressed, but still in the range where things were tolerable. After I turned around I warmed up somewhat and went a little faster.  I fell behind on fueling and hydration and started to drag with 3 miles left, it wasn't unpleasant, but I could tell the legs didn't have as much in them as on my way out. At that point I drank what I could and pushed through the remaining distance.  When I got home I passed on sitting in the snowbank, I was cold enough already and was eager to get out of the wind.  The morning ended with a hot shower, a nap, and then brunch at WF Maxwells.  Not a bad way to end the weekend.

Biggest Loser
Today is the end of the third week of my biggest loser competition. I've been making steady progress and I'm down a total of 11 pounds so far.  It hasn't been easy, but I've also been able to be a indulge a few times a week because of the large amount of running I've been doing. This week I'd like to really focus on eating well and see if I can make it without having any "bad" meals. I'm not necessarily cutting down on calories from previous weeks, just looking to avoid the feeling of 'I could have done better' when I'm done eating a meal.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Foggy Morning

I planned on running 4 miles to the store and another 4 miles with the group this morning.  For whatever reason I was a little head of schedule and decided to try out my new 6 mile route to the store.  Stepping outside I was amazed by how foggy it was.  Normally when we have fog in the morning the wind is dead calm.  This morning the wind was blowing around 7-10 mph without really disrupting the fog at all.  The temp was just above freezing, but there was patchy ice nearly everywhere. In some spots there was just a little water sitting on ice which made things very slippery.  

I knew that most of the wide sidewalks in our neighborhood had been cleaned off so I stuck to them instead of running in the street.  Unfortunately the melting snow had not drained very well yet and half a mile from the house I already had wet feet.  I almost always swear when I step in a puddle but today I wasn't really worried about it.  I've run in wet shoes enough now that I know they will dry somewhat quickly if I could keep out of the water. As I started to head north I was in a residential area and moved out into the middle of the street to find better footing and to dry off and soon forgot about the wet feet. As I was leaving that neighborhood I turned on my headlamp as I was nearing the dark gravel road I've grown so found of.  The fog was dense enough that most of the light seemed to reflect back into my eyes and and I chose to run in the dark instead. After the gravel road there isn't much for sidewalks until I get back onto 9th Street I tend to be somewhat concerned about traffic along 32nd Ave.  The few streetlights there are along that stretch did a good job of illuminating the area despite the fog and with it being as early as it was I saw no one driving until I'd reached 9th and turned onto the sidewalk. As I ran north again I checked my pace and the time and saw that even with the longer route I should be reaching the store right on time.  This was a bit of a relief because I had been slowing down more then expected because of ice and having to put the strap back on the headlamp after I had adjusted it.  I was a little surprised to see footprints in the light frost on the ground indicating that someone else had already been out this morning.   Crossing the interstate I started to wonder if I would see Heather and Cassie start their runs.  They tend to leave a little early and when I come this way I normally pass then along 17th Ave.  A few minutes later I could start to make out the dark form of a runner up ahead and saw that Heather was alone this morning.  We said good morning as we passed and I continued on to the store to meet up with Erin.

When we left the store Erin and I ran with Jerry, Penny and Lamont.  Lamont was struggling a little this morning and turned back after a mile so he could reopen the store if Heather got back early from her run. Penny, Jerry, Erin and I stuck together for the rest of the 4 mile loop.  We kept a good pace, faster then I was going on my way to the store.  It was nice running with them and the rest of the run seemed to go quickly. Overall it was a great run in some interesting weather.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Solitary Run

I really enjoy running with others.  Weather it's been the Thursday morning runs from the store, the Saturday marathon long runs, or an impromptu get together of friends, running with others helps pass the time and control pace making long runs easier. If possible I try to run with others.

This morning I woke up early and wanted to get in some miles.  Erin was out late and doesn't run on Sundays so that was out.  Rachel and Maggie had already run their long runs this week and were probably still sleeping. Rick is still a little banged up from arrowhead and while I was sure he'd be up and willing to tag along I didn't want him to aggravate his issue.  So I filled up my hydration pack, dug out the headlamp and headed out into the dark.    It was about 35 degrees out when I left home with wind at around 17 mph from the south west. I hadn't decided on a distance yet, but knew I would be doing at least 6 miles to get my weekly total up to my goal.  To the south and west of here is mainly highways so I decided to head through town.  There's a dark gravel road not far from our house that I've recently discovered and decided to start there.  The wind was not that unpleasant as it was far warmer then it has been for the past couple of months.  As I went down the gravel road I thought I heard something in one of the pine trees along the road.  I wasn't really worried, but a little curious as to what had made the noise.  Was it an animal?  The wind?  Perhaps just an echo as I ran past.  I wasn't able to figure it out so I kept going and when I reached the end of the gravel road decided that I would head to the store. I had thought about using this route to the store on a Thursday morning run to get in a little more distance and concluded that now would be a great time to measure the distance.  As I headed into town with the south wind at my back I decided that I wouldn't worry about turning around into the wind as it wasn't that cold out.  Deciding not to worry about the wind opened up a lot of places to run and I tried to come up with a fun route for the rest of my run after I had gotten to the store. Yesterday morning Rick had told me about a route he had come up with going south east from the store along the Old Milwaukee trail.  I thought that it would be a good morning to try this out so after I reached the store I ran by the Y and around prarriewood meeting up with the Old Milwaukee near Doolittles.  From there I ran south and started to pick the pace up a little.  I had about 9 miles in and thought I'd get about 15 in with what I had planned.  As I ran along the trail I saw someone walking in the distance.  I couldn't make out if the person was coming towards me, or going away so I decided I would make it my goal to pass this person.  This helped me pick the pace up even more.  I was a little surprised as how fast I could go this far into a long run and having done a long run the day before.  Soon enough I had passed the walker and was near 40th Ave S.  I decided I didn't want to add any more mileage to the route by taking detours and followed 40th almost all the way back to the house.  When I got back I plopped down in the snowbank to ice the legs and called Erin to see if she'd bring out a shake for me. We chatted about the run for a bit outside before she helped me out of the snowbank and the mornings adventure was complete.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Todays long run with the group was 11 miles.  Since the run was from the store I opted to get in 4 bonus miles by running to the store.  The weather was great.  Lower 20s with a light wind out of the East, much warmer then the 17 below Thursday morning when I last ran to the store. After the run was the annual pancake feed at the dome.  The past few years I've enjoyed doing our Saturday group run and then going for pancakes afterwards.  This year was no exception.  After almost 16 miles I really enjoyed hanging out with Rick and his family and chowing down on the pancakes.

This weeks training was fairly uneventful. Monday was a rest day as normal.  Tuesday morning I did half mile intervals on the treadmill at the gym for a total of 6 miles.  Average speed wasn't quite as fast a tempo run, but the workout felt good.  I snuck in a hard 45 minute ride on the bike at the gym that night before my company christmas party that night.  Wednesday morning was a cold windy run with Erin.  We headed Northwest into the wind and got in a little over 6.5 miles.  Wednesday night was a hard hour on the bike and 15 minutes on the rowing machine. Thursday morning was an 8 mile run, 4 to the store and 4 with Erin, and that afternoon I mixed it up at the gym with the rowing machine, biking, and the elliptical.  Friday Erin and I crossed trained at the gym so I was on the elliptical again and a machine that sort of mimics the motion of skating.  It's a lot of time spent training, but I think all of the cross training helps keep things balanced and injury free.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Surprisingly high mileage week

Thursdays fun run wound up being 8 miles, giving me 15 miles for the day.  Not bad for a week day.  The weather was great and Jerry was able to make it, however Penny was not feeling well and missed the run.  It was a lot of fun running through the dark down by the river chasing Jerry and Maggie.

Saturdays group run also had great weather with the temperature just below freezing with a very light breeze.  The route called for full marathoners doing a double loop plus going around Island Park while half marathoners only running one loop. After reviewing the route I was a little concerned about it, but running it went better then I had expected.  With Rick still recovering from Arrowhead I decided that I would be the one ensuring that no one got left behind on the group run. I hate the term sweeper, but that's the function I was performing. I ran with a lady training for a 10k before catching up to a couple of girls training for the half.  Both of them had run half marathons before so we mainly talked about weekend plans, who would win the superbowl, and other non running topics.  After completing the first loop I met up with 2 women training for their first marathon.  I recognized them from the previous week and knew that they had run with Rick.  We chatted about Ricks event and discussed some hydration and nutrition tips in the 5 miles we shared that day.  Getting back to the Y after the run I found Erin and we iced our legs in the snowbank before returning home for a lazy Saturday.

Today I got up early and headed over to Moorhead to meet up with Maggie and Cory for their weekend long runs.  The plan was to drive out to Rollag and run on the gravel roads near there to get some hill work in.Cory joined us for the first 10 miles and then drove along the route while Maggie and I put in another 5.75.  The weather started out great with warm temps and little wind, but the wind picked up while we were out there as a system began to move in bringing light snow and colder temps.  Maggie and I ended our run with a rest in the snowbank.  I really enjoyed the chance to run with Cory and Maggie, their enthusiasm is infectious and miles always seem to pass quickly when I run with them.

Total running mileage this week was 51 miles.  Considerably more then the 38 I had originally planned, but I'm happy with how the week went.  My body has been tolerating the increased distance well, and I got a few chances to run with people I don't get to see on a regular basis. My biggest feeling of accomplishment came from todays long run.  It's been a long time since I've done a run longer then 3 hours.  There are things that happen when you're out there that long that just don't have time to develop on shorter runs.  The rust showed as I got behind on nutrition near mile 12.  These are the mental things I need to get a better handle on if I'm going to run ultras.  Next week I can back of on miles and focus on increasing the intensity of my workouts.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Biggest Loser

On Monday I started a biggest loser competition with some of Erin's coworkers.  It thought the competition would help motivate me with something I should be doing anyway. So far my strategy is to moderately restrict calorie consumption and focus on letting myself burn off the excess calories with running, or biking.  I'm not interested in taking the time to catalog everything I eat, but making smarter choices on what I'm eating, when I'm eating, and most importantly how much I'm eating.  I'm still trying to find a balance between fueling up properly for workouts and still cutting back on calories.  If I figure it out I'll be sure and post the secret.  So far I've noticed a slight drop off in the intensity of my harder workouts but my endurance is holding up well.  Right now I'm ok with this trade off, but I'd still like try some things to see if I can diet and keep the intensity up when I need it.

Last Saturdays group run was 7 miles from the downtime Y and was our first official outdoor run.  I got a chance to run with some half marathoners for a while and finished with a group of about 8 marathoners.  It was really great getting back outside with the training class. The weather was cold and windy, but nothing too extreme.  This week is 9 miles from the downtime Y again with the weather looking much nicer then last week.

Tonight a mini adventure with Penny, Maggie, Erin, and whoever else shows up.  We'll be doing a relaxed run down by the river.  It will be the second run of the day for Erin and I.  She did 3 this morning, while I ran to the store and wound up with 7.  Two runs a day is odd for most training programs I've seen, but I think we'll be fine.  We're just doing easy runs and I think it's important to go on these little adventures so that running isn't always about getting in the miles in your plan, and more about having fun with friends as part of life.

Also Rick successfully completed the Arrowhead 135 ultra marathon yesterday. I enjoyed following his route online with his SPOT device uploading his location.  I'm happy he achieved his goal, and glad he did it safely. Great job dreaming big and crazy and making it happen.