Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I was just reading some blogs I follow (while I take a break from grading papers) and recognized a thread in all of them today - a loose thread, kind of frayed and fuzzy perhaps.  It has to do with goal setting and training especially when it comes to long distance events - marathons and half or full Ironman distance triathlons.  What I have taken from this thread is that very specific goal times are kind of ridiculous for these events (maybe any events).  There are way too many variables in training over such a long period of time and on the actual day of the race, that a very specific goal seems like a lot of pressure to put on yourself - or in this case, myself.  

In an earlier post I listed a bunch of goal times for the events I am planning on doing in 2009 and that is fine, but I think that realistically I should have three goal times for every race - faster than I have gone before, about as fast as I have gone before, finish in one piece.  That means that my training for an event falls roughly in the same categories.  If I want to run a race faster, I have to train faster/harder.  If I want run a race about the same as I have in the past, I have to train like have in the past.  If I want to simply finish a race, I have to train enough to make it through while remaining (or getting) healthy.  Some of the performance comes from experience and learning new tricks.  I consider those improvements a freebee - to be considered but no necessarily banked on. This way the pressure is off, I continue to enjoy the journey and the times will come.  

Overall goal for this year - faster.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What is WRONG with me?

I am sitting here, the kids are in bed, A is playing Bunko and I am watching The Biggest Loser and just polished off about eight Oreos.  I have been eating the house and am sitting here still hungry.  We only ran three miles this morning, which is fine.  I have been lifting weights as well, so I hope that has something to do with it.  I have had some job search set backs - the job that I really wanted was put on hold (thanks economy) so that is the second time I have had a position put on hold.

Is it the combination of these things along with the days getting shorter and the weather getting colder that makes me want to eat everything that will fit in my mouth?  I don't know - I will think more about it while I eat this apple.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Mom (talking to F and his buddy Nick) "Nick, what do you want to be when you grow up?"
Nick - "An astronaut."
F - "Dangerous job."

I'll Take That Bet!

I have to add another marathon to my dream list - the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco.  20,000 participants and less than 5% are men.  There is a caveat though, I have to run it with the women from the running group and ... wait for it ... I have to run it in a skirt!  I suggested a nice gold lame number and it was met with enthusiastic approval.  I think that the other requirement for the race should be that at least a couple of the women (you know who you are) who run with me should try to hit their Boston qualifying time - even if they have already qualified.  I secretly (or not so secretly, now) hope this actually happens.  What a story!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Real Housewives

My wife watches questionable television.  For all her talk about limiting the amount and monitoring the content of television our kids watch, she watches the most ridiculous crap on the air.  (OK - I watch some crap, too and she doesn't watch these terrible shows on a regular basis, but there are a couple she seems to go back to.)  Her latest bit of "entertainment" is "Real Housewives of Atlanta" - a
winning spin-off of "Real Housewives of Orange County" and "Real Housewives of NYC".  I have decided that there is opportunity for yet another spin-off  - "Real Housewives of Country Club."  (For people not familiar - Country Club is the neighborhood we live in in Edina, MN. Kind of a misleading name, since it isn't connected to a golf course.)  Apparently, some people are impressed that they live in "Country Club" - the people we associate with, not so much - I think we all live more in the "country club" neighborhood with our eight year old Honda and Creeping Charlie infested front yard.  I will be placing an ad in the Country Club Neighborhood Life Magazine (see what I mean?  People impressed with themselves) and we'll see who has absolutely no shame and wants to embarrass themselves on national television.  

(OK - maybe not, but it could be "entertaining.")

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Let the off-season begin

After struggling through two weeks of marginal running post-TCM I took Saturday off and got set for the off season.  I ran seven miles this morning at 8:40 pace and it felt comfortable and easy.  Now comes the good stuff.  Some people struggle with the off-season.  With nothing to train for they feel unmotivated.  I am excited because this is where the big gains come.  I don't have a race until mid-January, so I have from now until then to get totally healthy, get fully into the weight training and rededicate myself to the stretching/core work that I have been doing.  It will be challenging to work out in the cold, but I thought the same about working out in the heat and adapted to that.  Anyway, I am looking forward to the work.  Wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Preliminary 2009 Race Schedule (Revised)

The Twin Cities Marathon is 10 days away.  I am in the middle of my taper and my mind won't stop running.  Over the past few weeks I have been thinking about all I have done in the past nine months.  I have also been planning what I will shoot for in 2009 after I get back from my "training vacation" about the middle or end of December.  Following is the major race schedule I am considering and some preliminary goals for each race.  Might be some 5k races in there as well.  We will see how this plan fleshes out in the end.

January 24, 2009 - Securian Winter Carnival Frozen Half Marathon - Goal time: @1:45 - This will be a fun race with not much serious training.

May 2, 2009 - Wells Fargo Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon - Goal time: 1:35 - This is the warm up for Grandma's and would like to be running about ten minutes faster than last year at this point.

June 7, 2009 - Buffalo Sprint Triathlon - Goal time: 1:00 - 1:05 - Kick-off for the triathlon season.  I should be able to trim off some pretty significant time with much faster transitions (no socks this time), faster swim (no wet suit?) and way better bike.

June 20, 2009 - Grandma's Marathon - Goal time: 3:30 - This might be ambitious as I will be in the middle of triathlon training and will be pretty torn down, but, for now, I will give it a shot.

July 19, 2009 - Door County HIM Triathlon - Goal time: 5:00 - Shooting for a faster swim, much faster bike and another good run.

July 25, 2009 - Chisago Lakes HIM Triathlon - Goal time: 5:15 - This will be my first time doing this race and my second HIM in a week.  A daunting task to be sure, but I am a glutton for punishment. (I did DCT a week after Lifetime in 2008.)  Figure I will tack on 15 minutes to account for tiredness from DCT and unfamiliar course.

September 6, 2009 - City of Lakes 25K - Goal time: @1:45 - Another warm-up race.  This one for TCM.  

October 2009 - Twin Cities Marathon - Goal time: 3:25 (maybe 3:20) - This race could also be the Chicago Marathon or even New York (if I am gainfully employed.)

(All races and times subject to change based on financial constraints, training, health, etc.)

Monday, October 13, 2008


I like teaching, but I really hate correcting assignments, quizzes and projects.  Therefore I am procrastinating by doing anything but those three things.  I will get it done, but I am fighting it tooth and nail.  Hell, I am even taking the time to write this blog entry, I must be really fighting it!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ironman Fever

During TCM it was decided that 2010 would be the year of the Ironman.  (You have to plan a year ahead because the fields fill up in minutes after registration opens.)  We - CS & M - are aiming for Madison with Canada as a possible back-up.  Yesterday was the 2008 Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii - "The Ironman" - and I watched a bunch of the race live online and I just read some race reports on some blogs I watch and now I can't wait!  The way I figure it, I can swim no problem, I can run an incredibly painful marathon (done it), but I have to get used to being in the saddle for five + hours.  Good thing I've got a year and a half to put it all together.  Have I completely lost my mind?  I certainly hope so.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Marathon Reminders

Once again, sorry to everyone who reads this. This list is more for me, so I don't mean to bore you.

Things to remember for the next marathon:

1) If I have to pee, pee early (preferrably in the first five miles).  It is a lot easier to recover the time rather than later in the race.

2) Lube up the waist band area.  The only place missed and the only place that is not pretty.

3) Strawberry Clif Shots are my friend.  They went down pretty well and didn't taste terrible even after the fourth one.

4) Drink 1.5 liters of Accelerade orange in the morning.  Cut back on the water later so you don't have to pee as soon as you start.

5) Eat a Clif Builder Bar a half hour before the start.  It simulates what you do every morning before a run.

6) Take three Immodiums about three hours or so before the start.

7) Carbo-load three days out from the race.  It really works!

26.2 in 3:34:48

The End!  After ten months of training and racing my innagural season is complete and it couldn't have ended on a better result.  First, I must thank everyone who ran with me, encouraged me and put up with me during my training.  Second, I must thank everyone who came out to watch my races - especially the people who came out yesterday and stood in the pouring rain and cold.  I wouldn't feel this good without all of you.

So, the race.  Wow! There is so much to recall and so much that I have already forgotten.  

We got to the fricking start late.  We were still sliding up the chute to the first corral with about 90 seconds left.  My favorite was the people who were pushing through to get to the start faster.  I mean really, we are all going to the same place and the clock doesn't start until you cross the line anyway.  C and I got separated dropping off our bags.  I didn't know if she was ahead of me or behind me.  After the start, I scanned like crazy and found a nice open area where I could be seen.  I'll tell you what, it is good to be in the first corral - a lot fewer people and it opens up really quick.  Needless to say, C caught me from behind in the first mile.  

It was crazy fun to run through the closed off streets of downtown Minneapolis.   Mile 1 was there in no time, as was mile 2.  We started looking for L around this time, but could not find her.  I wanted to hand off my arm warmers (which were a stellar idea, I must say), but had to carry them until we saw my family. I had to pee at the start and was still feeling it now, but I decided to hold it, I would need that liquid later and it would reabsorb wouldn't it?  It was about this time that the rain started.  

It was light at first, refreshing, and not too irritating around Lake of the Isles, but then it really kicked in.  On the west side of Lake Calhoun it really started to come down and that, combined with the wind blowing across the cool lake made for a miserable few miles.  It was at this point I saw "the girls" and my fam.  They are all incredible troopers for hanging tough in really crappy weather.  C and I were clicking along comfortably, joking about people splashing us and jokingly asking for towels.  Having my name on my shirt was so fun and funny.  It's great to hear my name called out.  One woman surprised me and I turned back to wave at her like we were best friends or something.  I had a smile on my face for a lot of the race because people kept calling out my name. 

Fast forward to halfway - we came across in about 1:44.  We were smoking right along and feeling good, but of course the race is only starting at this point.  We figured we were on pace to hit our goal of 3:30, assuming, as I told C, "we don't do anything stupid." A lot of the second half of the race is kind of a blur.  Every mile I got past 13 I would tell C how much better it was than Grandma's.  We were taking fluids regularly, eating our gels and generally having a fun comfortable race.  

Around mile 16 or 17 I just couldn't hold it anymore.  I was starting feel a cramp from clenching, so I made a dash to the port-a-potty.  We decided C would keep going at the same pace and I would just have to catch up.  I figured I lost about a quarter mile to C by the time I got out of the can.  (Note to self: Pee early in the race, it is a lot easier to catch up with more distance.)  I pushed the pace and figured if she held her pace and I sped up I could catch her with at least a few miles left before the finish.  I did get some good luck - the course at this point was fairly flat or with a very slight uphill and kind of winding, so I could see pretty far ahead.  I thought I could see her shirt and white visor ahead but it was hard to be certain, so I just kept pushing.  My next break came at the point where we climb up to the bridge.  There is a 90-degree left turn onto the entrance ramp and I got a clear shot of her and I was gaining.  I caught up on the River Road, hammering uphill.  It took about three miles.  I think we were happy to see each other.  I just hoped that I hadn't wasted too much trying to catch up.  The only thing I really wanted to make sure of was that I didn't have to run up Summit Ave. by myself.  

And then there we were.  Making the turn onto Summit.  We had run this together a few weeks ago and it didn't seem too bad then.  To be honest, it didn't seem too bad yesterday either.  Don't get me wrong, it was painful, but I think that is more due to where it is in the race. You are past the 20 mile mark and if you aren't feeling the miles, you aren't running hard enough.  Really, the most daunting part of this stretch is that it is so straight and monotonous and the crowds are spread wide on either side.  Some tool-job came up behind me asking if we could see the Cathedral (No! It was one of the five other churches on Summit that precede the Cathedral.)  I chose to ignore him and he fell back.

Saw the whole gang again and it really helped.  I still had great energy, was still running and was able to high-five the kids.  All of the sudden, there is C's husband, M, running with us.  I was thoroughly confused.  Had he finished and gotten back to run the last few miles with us?  Wow, that is hardcore.  (Turns out he had a rough race and was hanging with our friends waiting for us to come by.)  

My legs were really getting heavy at this point.  I reminded myself that they certainly felt better than they did at Grandma's, where the pain made me walk, and I had run up steeper hills later in races when I had already been racing for four hours, like the Door County Half Ironman.  This wasn't so bad.  It worked.

Pushing hard up the last hill to the turn to the Cathedral I started to get a stitch under my ribcage on the right side.  I realized I was breathing from the top of my lungs so I eased up a bit and concentrated on belly breathing and really pushing my navel out.  Mission accomplished, stitch gone.  And then my vision was upon me.  

Since our last 20 miler that finished at the finish line, I had been rehearsing in my head what my finish would be like.  It is quite possibly an ideal finish.  You make a gradual turn that brings you by the Cathedral at the top of the hill, the highest point on the course, and then you are looking down at the State Capital.  The finish is downhill, across a highway overpass and then a straight shot to the line.  I ran it exactly as I wanted to.  As soon as I made that turn at the Cathedral I freewheeled down the hill and let my momentum carry me across the overpass.  The stretch from the overpass to the finish is longer than it seems.  The stitch came back a little, but at this point it didn't matter.  Finish line and done!

C was right behind me.  I had a personal record by 28 minutes.  C had a personal record by about 10 minutes.  There were hugs and smiles all around.  What a great way to end the season.  Next year - who knows?  3:30? 3:20 and Boston?  It certainly bodes well.