Monday, October 4, 2010

Something better than a Superior Sawtooth 100 race report

I still have not posted my Superior Sawtooth 100 race report. I've written most of it, but sometimes events come along that are more important!
Some of you might know my wife Mary (whom I usually refer to as "Schmoopie"). To get to the point, she has attempted to get a marathon Boston qualifying time for the last couple of years. She has had a very good summer of training, and her hard work has finally paid off.
Now to really get to the point;
Schmoopie ran a BQ of 3:59:59 at the Twin Cities Marathon yesterday!!!
I am so proud of her and how she ran this race! We will be making plans to be in Boston next April 18, 2011.
We're going to bask in this one for a bit - then I'll post that boring Superior race report.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

Success at Burning River!

Good news!
JojaJogger had success at Burning River 100. She finished in an official time of 29:39:16!!!
There were some very challenging times, but she dug down really deep and got the job done!
Sorry I didn't post earlier, but my Blackberry went into a bad funk at mile 72 and did not recover - kind of like a lot of the runners out there.
The experience of crewing and pacing at BR100 was fantastic!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Burning River update

Here's the latest on JojaJogger's progress at Burning River 100.
She just came through Ottawa Point (mile 39.6) at 2:35PM,(9:35 elapsed time) which is right on her planned pace and 2:10 ahead of cutoff.
Just need her to stay steady and keep moving.
I will start pacing her @ mile 54.5.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Going to Burning River!

This weekend I am traveling to the Cleveland, OH area for the Burning River 100. Not as a participant, but to crew and pace for my sister JojaJogger.
She is taking on her first hundred!!!
The plan is to crew her for the first 50 miles, then when nightfall comes I will pace her through the night to mile 85.
There is a 30 hour limit - so I will do my best to keep her on track to reach her goal.
I'm sitting at MSP airport right now, looking forward to the adventure-filled weekend!
If there is time and internet coverage, I may even post a few updates on the blog here.
Run starts at 5:00 EST / 4:00 CST Saturday and 30 hours later is Sunday 11:00AM EST / 10:00 CST.
There also is a live webcast at so tune in and check up on us during the run!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

It isn't always about running

This blog is not always about running.
Taking a look at all of the entries I've made here - they are ALL about running.
"Challenge Yourself" was meant to be that, I guess. I started with this blog to document a lot of the races and runs that I have set as goals in my little world of running. I am so thankful for all of the experiences in the past few years of my running. It's been very good.
I just don't normally talk about my personal life, my job or much else here. Sure, "Schmoopie" gets a little press once in a while - but that is because she runs also.
I will break away from the running on (hopefully just this entry) to give you a non-running update.
Last Friday night, our farm was hit by a storm/funnel cloud/tornado.
It really doesn't matter what the NOAA will call it, this storm packed a pretty good punch.
We are all safe and in good spirits. I believe that events like this are given to us for a good reason. It was miraculous that the buildings and equipment that I use the most were left nearly untouched. The buildings destroyed did not have livestock or valuable items in them, the equipment damaged was older and not being used. Our house had minimal damage.
This weekend we had many friends and family stop by and help with the cleanup effort. We are so thankful for these people in our lives.
I'll share a couple of pictures here. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who suffered much greater losses than ours this last couple of weeks.

Ok, now back to running......
Afton 50K is coming up this Saturday. My legs are feeling pretty good, and I'm hoping that I will be able to get up and down the hills in good order. There will be lots of top competition there with the 25K held as the USATF MN Trail running championship and the 50K being the USATF MN Ultra championship.
See you there!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

FANS 12 hour race report

Last Saturday I participated in the FANS 12 hour run held at Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis, MN.The 24 hour version is in its 21st year and the 12 hour run is now in its 9th year. For more information about the FANS event, click here.
This year was special, as my sister JojaJogger came up to participate in the 24 hour event in preparation for her first ever 100 mile run at Burning River the end of July. She had been signed up for this a long time ago, and Mary had agreed to crew her for the run. I signed up about 1 month ago, and she gave me a little grief about "only" running the 12 (all the cool kids were doing 24 she said....).
I'm in pretty good running condition right now, but hadn't done an ultra event since late last year. I just thought I would go out there, get comfortable, and see what happens. Then, my sister posts on her blog that to get a "passing grade" of C for her run, she needs to run more miles than I can in 12 hours.
The sibling rivalry is on....
Fast forward to 8:00AM on a somewhat humid morning at Lake Nokomis. Final instructions are given, and 24-hour legend Mike Henze is there to ring a cowbell and get us started.
From looking at the list of entrants, I knew there were 2 runners in the 12 hour field that had very impressive credentials. John Storkamp was out there again to seek the course record, and Carolyn Smith was a runner that no one could overlook. Storkamp told me before the race that at the Fall 50 in Door County, she blew past him in the final miles to win the race outright. He has a lot of respect for her.
We were off on the first lap, and Storkamp laid back - he was running behind me for the first mile. But at the end of the first short lap, he pulled ahead. Others right beside me were Stan Ponkin and Zach Gingerich (who was running 24 - I guess he is a cool and very talented kid).

Notice how Storkamp is looking back and seems to be asking "is anybody going to run with me today?"
I held steady and the others pulled ahead. Holding steady meant 7:55/mile and it felt easy. But it was still very warm and humid, and I was going through about 48 oz. of water per hour. I increased my intake on SaltStick capsules to about 4/hour. Those laps I spent a lot of time trailing Carolyn Smith and Sonya Decker, sometimes running with Zach also. They were consistently hitting about 19:20 per lap. It wasn't long (sometime after mile 20) when Sonya dropped back. Carolyn told me she had some stomach issues.
So for the next 30 miles, Carolyn, and I played cat and mouse. She would pull ahead, but I would gain time every lap because Mary had my filled water bottles ready for me. No stopping at all. And then Carolyn would run with and sometimes pull ahead.
We talked about Storkamp, and how he sometimes goes out too fast. We agreed that if he didn't lap us by mile 40, we are in contention.
The rain started up, but really I didn't mind at all. It felt great, and I could reduce my water and elctrolyte consumption. I know the pace eroded a bit here to about an 8:30/mile but that is still pretty good at this point.
Came into mile 50 with a time of 6:55:06, 45 minutes faster than my best 50 mile run. Oh well, I'm in too deep to back down now!
It was sometime here where I did not see Carolyn any more, but knew she was somewhere behind me. Storkamp was ahead, but I had no idea where. My friend Ryan ran with me a bit here and I asked him to see if he could spy out where they were.
At mile 69.5, Storkamp was 8 minutes ahead and Carolyn was 4 minutes back.
Now is when it gets tough to focus. More than two hours to run yet.
The guys from MN RED came out and ran some laps with me. It was Brian, Rob and Coach Ron. They told stories - a lot of them pretty funny, and it kept my mind off the pain. We were able to hold onto a 9:00/mile pace even in those final laps.
Ryan updated me that at mile 79.1, Storkamp was 14 minutes ahead and Carolyn was 7 minutes back. Storkamp was not fading, he was getting stronger. Oh well, just try to stay steady and not blow up in the last 40 minutes.
I made it back to the lap count area with 19 minutes to go - not enough to run another long lap (I did not have any 7:30 miles in me at that time), so I started the short laps. I completed 8 laps (2 miles) and there was 55 seconds left.
Pushed it pretty hard to get the last 1/8 mile in just as time expired.
Final result: 83.69 miles for 2nd place overall.
John Storkamp compiled an amazing 85.49 miles, and Carolyn Smith established a new women's course record with 82.69 miles.

Now, back to the sibling rivalry....I was able to wind down a bit, clean up and get 2 hours of sleep. I came back to the course to crew for my sister and give Mary a break. Joja was still moving along well, but was reduced to walking now. She had PR'ed already at the
50 mile mark and was doing fantastic. She had a goal, and that was to out-do her little brother. And I was going to help her do it!
The night actually went by quickly, I was able to walk with her quite a bit, helping my legs from tightening up too much. She had to stop a couple times in the med tent to get some blisters fixed up, but she was determined to keep moving. By the time 24 hours was up, she had compiled 85.24 miles and got her goal.
Congratulations, you kicked my butt!!
Here's a picture of the two of us shortly after the 24 hours was over.
The post race breakfast was excellent and the awards ceremony was short and sweet.
Right now it is 7 days post-race and I am feeling very good. No structural damage at all from the run, but it will take all of 4 weeks to be ready for Afton 50K.
Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Miracle at Lake Wobegon

Here is my account of the Miracle at Lake Wobegon on May 8, 2010.

Started right up front. The gun went off and it felt good. There were three runners that shot out ahead of me. Let's call them Red, White and Spinach. Spinach is an excellent 52 year old runner whom I've gotten to know in the last year. He also won the Men's Master's title last year. Red and White were a lot younger.
Time splits were called out at Mile one. Red, White and Spinach - yes in that order went through at 6:00 - 6:05.
I hit it at 6:33 with a lot of runners right behind me.
For me, that's way too fast, so I attempted to settle in to a slower pace. Looking at my Garmin, I was now closer to 6:40 on mile 2. The steps behind me started to pass. I looked over and it was Joe.
Yep, Joe as in last year's winner and Master's course record holder at 2:50:19. He also was sporting Bib #1, which was a bit intimidating for me. Joe said hi and started closing the gap on Red, White and Spinach. He appeared to have set the the cruise control to 6:20/mile and let it fly.
Next to pass me were Brett, followed by Mike and Brad. Mike and Brad appeared to be running together and I visited with them a bit. Their goal was to go sub-3 also. We agreed that 6:45 pace would be wise so I joined up with them and we continued on through mile 4. On mile 5, these guys were pushing closer to 6:35 pace, so I kindly told them I'm going to back down a bit. I got my pace back into check the next few miles, but Brett, Mike and Brad never pulled that far ahead of me. Running felt nice and comfortable.
Now there are 7 runners ahead of me and I'm locked into a 6:45/mile pace.
I have lost sight of Red, White and Joe. Spinach is in sight, but more than 400 meters ahead. Brett, Mike and Brad are still 150 meters ahead of me.
The trail here is a 10 ft wide "rails to trails" asphalt path. Very flat and no hills to speak of. The wind was from the northwest, so the first 11 miles had a cross wind, but then it was a tailwind for the last 15. Couldn't feel the wind all the time, because there are plenty of trees along the trail, providing shade and protection from the wind.
I crossed the 10 mile mark and took note. 1:07:14

Quick math told me that I'm running just under 6:45 pace. At this time, I am very pleased with how this is going.
At mile 11.1, made the turn to head east and I could feel the wind on my back. Mile 12 split gave me a 6:30 - come on, let's keep this thing in check. I tried to pull it back a little bit, just knowing that I'm not even to the half and cannot fathom running 6:30 miles for 14 more miles.

Thoughts running through my head were:
  • Keep things in order.
  • Be in a good place at mile 20.
  • Save the fast stuff for the last 10K.
I was now running at 6:35-6:40/mile and feeling good. The half came up and they called out 1:27:42. I remember thinking that is the 4th fastest half I've ever run, but smiled confidently to myself. I was feeling great. But I was still in 8th place. Could see Brett, Mike and Brad closing in on Spinach. By mile 14, they caught him and they ran together a bit. At mile 15, Spinach had
fallen back from the 3 young guys pushing ahead.
Just before mile 16, I finally caught up to Spinach and visited with him. He said his left knee was hurting quite a bit. I encouraged him to keep going, as a sub-3 for him would still be possible. Just before mile 18, Spinach was slowing a bit, so I pushed ahead.
By mile 19, I was right behind the 3 young runners. It was here where we came up fast on the original leader Red. He had totally imploded and was moving along about a 9:00 pace. I ran right with Brett, Mike and Brad. We were coming up to mile 20. I could tell by their breathing that they were working pretty hard now.
I remember thinking - "Here is mile 20 - and I'm in a good place".
Soon, we came upon another runner who was fading somewhat. It was Bib #1 Joe. I could not believe my eyes. We went by, encouraged him to hang in there and pushed onward. By mile 21 I was now in a pack of 4 runners, realizing the strongest finisher will get 2nd place. It is now a very long, straight section to the finish. The trail has no turns. The young guys pointed out that first place (White) was visible. That was at least 1/2 mile ahead of us. Subconciously, I started to lead the pack and started pushing. By mile 23, the last of the young guys said "Go get him!". Somewhere beyond mile 24, a spectator told me that I was now 1:45 behind the leader. I pushed pretty hard. The Garmin was showing 6:23 pace. I could see that I was gaining, but not fast enough.
At mile 25, I saw some puke on the trail. I'm in second place and there is only one runner ahead of me. Is he getting sick and slowing down? I pushed even harder, but mile 26 was coming up all too fast.
This is the only time I have ever wished the marathon would be one mile longer. I was running out of trail to catch White. At mile 26, he was closer to the finish than I was to him. I tried to stay strong but was not going to go into a full sprint.
I came upon the finish, gave thanks to God for staying with me, and crossed in 2:54:14.

I went over and congratulated White (Brian) on a great marathon. He finished in 2:53:25 - 49 seconds ahead of me. I happened to ask him about the puke, and he saw it wasn't him.
Here are the mile splits:
Mile 1-6: 6:35, 6:41, 6:40, 6:48, 6:44, 6:47
Miles 7-13: 6:45, 6:41, 6:42, 6:44, 6:41, 6:30, 6:34
Half in 1:27:42
Miles 14-18: 6:33, 6:38, 6:45, 6:38, 6:39
Miles 19-23: 6:39, 6:41, 6:44, 6:39, 6:40
Miles 24-Finish: 6:30, 6:26, 6:24 and 1:20

I have included a heart rate chart, comparing my performance at Shamrock Marathon 8 weeks ago vs. this marathon. The main thing to note is the time spent above 170 bpm at Shamrock (miles 8-12) came back to bite me at mile 22. Keeping the HR below 170 at Wobegon
meant I had fresher legs going into the final 6 miles.
Thanks for reading,

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Race schedule is taking form

There is no doubt I am a crappy blogger.

I have finally committed to a few races this year:
May 8, 2010: Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon - St. Joseph, MN
May 21, 2010: Fargo 5K - Fargo, ND
May 22, 2010: Fargo Marathon -pace Mary to a goal of 4:05
June 5, 2010: FANS 12 hour run
July 3, 2010: Afton Trail Run 50K - Afton State Park
October 23, 2010: Mankato Marathon - Mankato, MN

I have printed out the registration for Superior Sawtooth 100 mile trail run on September 11, 2010. I have not sent it in yet. This would be the goal race for 2010.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Shamrock Marathon Race Report

Mary's results:
Mary ran a 1:58:30 in the half marathon, and looking at her Garmin data, she negative split the race, with the 2nd half going into a brisk headwind. She did very well!
Ryan's results:
Ryan ran with the 3:10 pace group and was right on track up to mile 17. He had a lot of cramping issues and finished in 3:29:05.
I know he will get that BQ soon!
John's race:
Started out a bit slow, mostly becuase of a 10 mph headwind for the first 5.6 miles. I ran mostly alone and could not find a steady runner with wide shoulders to draft. Everyone that started at my speed ended up slowing down by mile 2. I needed to pick up the pace relative to others. At 5.6 there was a sharp U-turn and I could count the number of runners ahead of me. Was in 79th place at that time, and a full minute behind perfect pace. Felt I was working pretty hard, yet really wanted to get some of that time back. I saw that there was a pretty good-sized pack of runners ahead of me, only about 25 seconds in front. Had the wind on my back now and put a target on their backs. Ran out a couple of faster miles (6:35 to 6:40) and caught up with the pack at mile 10.
There were 10 guys in the pack and I just hung in the back and listened. They were the "unofficial" 3:00 pace group. They got onto the boardwalk (actually it is concrete) and they were running pretty steady. It was nice to run with them and not worry about checking my watch. The pack hung together well through the half and our split was 1:30:15. These guys continued to run well, and with a bunch of 6:45 to 6:48 miles, we were back in business. Tough part is that we lost a few runners and were down to a pack of 6 at mile 18.1.
I was feeling good here and felt like the sub-3:00 was very possible. We made the turn at mile 19.1 and now had to run 7.1 miles into the wind to the finish.The course was well-protected for a while and I was able to stay steady. More runners fell off pace, there were only 3 of us left in the pack. Then we had direct sunshine and more wind. At mile 21.3 it hit me. My legs just would not move any faster. The idea of keeping up this crazy pace for 4 more miles in the wind and direct sunlight was killing me. I took a short walk break and managed 7:15 mile for mile 22.
Mile 23 had another walk break and a 7:32. The wheels had fallen off. Now it is time to salvage.Mile 24 pulled back a bit (no walking) and managed a 7:30. Two walk breaks on mile 25 resulted in a 7:59. Came back with a 7:37 for mile 26 and a 7:20 pace to the finish.
What did I learn from this?
I believe that treadmill running does not always translate to moving the body forward on planet Earth. Even though I had a pretty good training cycle, I did not have enough "real" running outdoors.
The push I made to catch up with the group (miles 6-10) came back and bit me big time. I have always found that if my HR goes over 170 (it averaged 172 on miles 10 and 11) for more than a mile in the first half of a marathon, it will result in lactate buildup (and very heavy legs) about 1 1/2 hours later. That is exactly when it hit me the hardest.
Yet, I really believe that if I would have held back on those miles, I would have only been able to run 3:01 - still short of goal.
So, I am satisfied in the effort I put out there. I gambled a bit, but really didn't lose too much. I know that someday again I'll be able to crack that mark again.
Oh yeah, official results:
36 / 2639 Overall
31 / 1600 Men
2 / 190 Men 45-49
P.S. Only 1 guy in the pack went sub-3. He was 35 years old and ran 2:58:34. The rest of the pack finished between 3:02 and 3:20. This is the grim reality of what really happens in the marathon.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Shamrock Marathon flash

Finished the Shamrock marathon in VA Beach in 3:03:22.
Was not what I wanted, but every race is a learning experience.
Wheels came off at mile 23 with a lot of muscle cramps.
Still satisfied as I think it was #35 Overall and 1st in M45-49. (The first 5 masters collect cash and not eligible for AG awards I guess).
I WILL post a more detailed race report after I get home.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Pre-Shamrock Preparations

Right now, we are waiting in line for some pizza in Virginia Beach, VA.
Tomorrow is the Shamrock marathon.
Mary is running the half, friend Ryan from MN is attempting a 3:10 BQ. I am attempting another sub 3.
I will try to flash some results on the blog here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rock 'n' Roll highlights

Famous last words:
"I'll post something here shortly after the race."
The race was on January 17, today is March 10. That's 45 days...I don't think that qualifies as shortly after the race. Sorry.
I just wanted to clear my conscience regarding that promise, so here are some thoughts about the P.F. Chang's Rock 'N' Roll Marathon.
Everyone was in good spirits on marathon morning. Mary and my sister Jojajogger were ready to go. Mary was going to attempt another BQ effort (sub 4:06), even though she had just run CIM only 6 weeks before. Jojajogger was going to run somewhere in the 5:00 range, yet didn't have a specific plan.
Expo the day before was very busy, as many runners stopped by the pacer booth to visit. There are so many that want to run a BQ or personal best and moods are high.
As I got into the start line corrals, all I had to do was hold the 3:40 sign up high and the runners flock to me. At the start, there were hundreds of runners keeping me in their sights. We were in the back of corral 2, and the 3:20, 3:30, 3:45 pacers were not around. Everybody keeps asking me where they are....I almost wanted to say "I think they are at the Porta-potty 3 blocks that way and take a left".
National anthem and then the start. Senator McCain was in the scaffolding above the start line and we ran underneath him as he gave his stiff trademark wave.
I had a plan and stuck quite close to it.
1st mile was in 8:30
We hit the 10K in 52:00 - 8 seconds in the bank.
Approached the half in 1:49:05 - 55 seconds in the bank.
Continued on to mile 20 in 2:47:08 - 41 seconds in the bank.
At mile 22, my parents were there and I handed the pace sign over to David, a strong young runner who visited with me quite a bit along the route.
I pulled over, gave Mom a birthday hug and kiss, and caught back up to the group. I talked David and a few of the stronger runners into keeping a strong pace and pull away from me as I was going to back down very slightly for miles 24, 25 and 26.
This is usually where what used to be hundreds of runners turns into just a few. I remember a young gal (I think her name was Robin). She was running right next to me for the whole time. I could tell she was a local AZ runner because she wore a stocking cap. She was working hard to hold pace with me, I could tell by her breathing. I just told her to stay in my back pocket and not give up. She stuck with me..all the way. I really could feel her pain - she was digging so deep to hang on. We got to the final turn and I told her to take it in to the finish. I slowed down a bit, so that she would get a nice photo. She crossed in 3:39:58.
I crossed in 3:40:03
After the finish, I worked my way through the finish line area (threw away the disposable timing band) and started running the course back, looking for Mary. Saw her around mile 25 and ran with her. She was a few minutes off her BQ pace, but looking good. We crossed the finish together and her finish time was 4:10:19. She will get her BQ soon, she just needs a better training cycle after a good recovery.
Again, I went through the finish area and got back on the course looking for Jojajogger. Saw her at mile 24.2 and ran with her. Wait a second, there was a guy handing out beer....downed one and then ran with her.
She was a couple minutes back from the 5:00 pace group, but was feeling good. She started to pick up the pace, and started to push for the sub-5:00 finish. I didn't think it would be possible, but she was moving very close to a 9:00/mile pace now, and passing lots of people.
She finished with a 4:59:24. That last mile was at least 2:00/mile faster than her entire pace. That's a strong finish!
In the end, I ran 32.2 miles on the course.
Overall, we had a great time in Phoenix. I'll be there again next year.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rock 'N' Roll preparations

Right now, I should start packing a few things in preparation for our upcoming trip to Arizona.
Mary and I are again traveling to the Phoenix area to participate in the P.F. Chang's Rock 'N' Roll Arizona marathon.
My sister jojajogger, will also be coming in from Atlanta to run the marathon.
This marathon is always kind of special to me, as it was where I first qualified for Boston in January of 2006.
This will be the fourth year in a row that I am the official 3:40 pacer for the P.F. Chang's Rock 'N' Roll Arizona Marathon.
This has always been a rewarding venture for me, as I really enjoy giving back to the sport of running by pacing. I can only hope that I am able to help others to realize their dream of qualifying for the Boston marathon or set a new personal record.
The pacing is a lot of fun (yea, running with a lot of 18-34 year old females trying to BQ doesn't hurt).
I've gotten to know the course quite well and try to get the best out of the runners that are with me.
My pacing strategy is quite simple:
A little bit slow on the first mile - like 8:40.
Then, average about 8:15-8:20 per mile to have us right on pace at 10K.
Continue this pace and by the half, we should have about 45 seconds in the bank.
I hold a steady pace of 8:23 from the half to mile 22.
I give back pace ever so slightly in the final few miles, and encourage the stronger runners to finish strong, yet trying to "round up" those that are struggling.
Cross the finish line in just under 3:40:00 chip time.
I'll post something here shortly after the race.