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It's time to run fast

I enjoy training in the winter, whether in Wisconsin or Colorado, for sundry reasons; the most prominent among them is this: it's time to run fast. Due to the nature of the winter season, e.g. cold, windy, poor road conditions, etc., my mileage is typically lower than usual. In part to compensate for the lack of miles, and in part because my legs feel more fresh, those miles tend to be notably faster. My racing schedule in this spring (2012) reflected this fact about my winter training, as ran a number of fast road courses (Cowtown Marathon, Mad City 50k, Door County Half). As my 2013 race schedule indicates, I'll be running a road marathon in mid-March, a very fast 50 mile course on April 6 (the American River 50 (AR50) boasts a modest 3,400' of total ascent), and a return to the Mad City 50k (no races over 50 miles for me until next year). My goals, respectively, are to run within plus or minus five minutes of the following times: 2:40, 6:05, 3:12. To run these times, my body will need to start feeling more comfortable running at a faster pace.

My winter and spring schedule will be very similar to last year, with the exception that my races in the spring will be exclusively at the marathon distance or longer (although some half marathons in training will be in order). Zach Bitter recently posted an insightful article about his training over the next few months, and it had me thinking more about my own training in the months to come. Zach's article is worth reading, especially for those that plan to run a fast course in the spring. I think his strategy is quite inline with mine: over the next several months, it's time to run fast.

What does it mean to say, 'it's time to run fast?' Training should include lots of speed-related workouts (note that my intended training plan will closely resemble what Zach is doing; this is not an accident). After running a marathon with a friend in Florida in mid-January, I'll try to keep my mileage between 65 - 90 miles per week until just before the AR50 on April 6th, and to return to the same volume within two weeks after AR50 to continue to prepare for Mad City and Ice Age. This will give over three full months of consistently fast training during the winter/spring. My weekly schedule during that time will include at least three of the following speed workouts (unless it's a race week): tempo (6 - 12 miles @ 5:30 - 6:00/mile pace), 20/40 sprint workout (20 seconds spring, 40 seconds recovery jog), track repeats (anywhere from 200m to 2,000m), mile repeats on the road (as fast as possible for at least four), up tempo longer run (13 - 22 miles at a sub 7:00/min pace). This last style of run will include speed injections at various points: for example, running three miles in the middle at close to 6:00/mile pace, or three miles at the end at around 6:00/mile pace.

Here's to pursuing, and hopefully reaching, new PRs in 2013! It's all in the training. Cheers!

12/17 - 12/23

I've finished up for the semester this week and commenced traveling; first from Madison to St. Louis, then to Panama City, finally back to St. Louis -- all this week. I'll be off to Colorado on the 28th where I'll spend time in Boulder and Breckenridge. Of course, all the traveling made running a bit of a difficulty, and all the activities otherwise (e.g. a wedding) made it ever more difficult. After feeling tightness in my IT band and knee last week, I think it's best that I take it easy until mid-January. Real low mileage this week, but I'll keep the mileage between 40-60/week for the next two to three weeks before returning to larger volume. Plus, during the next three weeks I'll have loads of cross training: snowshoeing, snowboarding, and the like. In any case, here's my last week of running (I wouldn't call it training!):

Monday (Dec. 17): off
Tuesday (Dec. 18): AM 12 miles, 1hr:22, 6:51/mile, Monona Bay loop to the Arb (road) with Hank & Fran. We ran three or four miles at 6:20-30/mile. Felt good.
Wednesday (Dec. 19): off. Grading, writing papers, traveling.
Thursday (Dec. 20): off. 10+ hours of travel today.
Friday (Dec. 21): PM 7 miles, :46, 6:37/mile, Panama City, Panama. Hot and humid, with smog and sunshine. I ran in the city along the water where the traffic was heavy, the sun was shining bright, and the humidity was palpable. Not the most ideal conditions.
Saturday (Dec. 22): off
Sunday (Dec. 23): AM 6.2 miles, :44, 7:00/mile, Panama City, Panama. Another travel day, but I was able to get a quick run in before breakfast. This one included two miles around 6:30 pace and a moderate incline throughout.

Weekly Totals: ~25 miles, 2hrs:45. Hardly a week of running, but things will get back on track over the next few weeks.


12/10 - 12/16

Back to running after some much needed time off. Also the last week of classes, which has kept me really busy. Here's a summary of last week:

Monday (Dec. 10): off
Tuesday (Dec. 11): AM 10 miles, 3 x 1 mile @ 5:28, 5:22, 5:24, plus 800m @ 2:41 at the Shell with Fran. 400m jog between sets. This was my first run since TNF-SF after ten days off running and my legs were a bit shocked by the pace. Still ailing in places from the race--I felt tightness in my left calf and hip, as well as my right knee.
Wednesday (Dec. 12): AM 10 miles, 1hr:19, 7:55/mile, Ice Age Trail. The trails had several inches of snow in most places; a bit of slipping and sliding around on this run. Still tight in the hips. Feels good to be back on the trails.
Thursday (Dec. 13): AM 10 miles, 1hr:09, 6:53/mile, Cap City Trail to the Arb (road). Same story today: still a bit tight, still good to be back running.
Friday (Dec. 14): PM 12 miles, 1hr:30, 7:31/mile, Lakefront Trail with Hank plus two miles on Cap City Trail. It was an unseasonably warm afternoon with little wind and a brilliant sunset. Plus Hank showed me a stretch of trails that I hadn't yet found.
Saturday (Dec. 15): AM 15 miles, 1hr:54, 7:34/mile, roads around Madison with Mike's Saturday morning group. On an overcast and rainy morning like today, the sun never quite seems to come up. We started in the dark at 6am, got caught in some rain, almost fell on some ice, and kept a consistent, comfortable pace. A good morning!
Sunday (Dec. 16): AM 13 miles, 1hr:30, 6:52/mile, SMR loop + two miles with Hank & Fran. We started off easy and then ran consistently at around 6:40/mile. My hip is still tight on my left side and it's causing some pain in my knee. I think I'll need to take it easy and increase strength/core work.

Weekly Totals: 70 miles, 8hrs:40. This may have been a bit much for the first week back. I'll probably stick to fewer miles for the next few weeks.


12/03 - 12/09

A full week without running for the first time in 2012. It was nice to take a break, relax, swim several miles throughout the week, and prepare to return to training.

I also was added to the American River (AR) 50 field this week and am especially excited to get back to training in preparation for this race (and others) in 2013.
**2013 AR50 entrants list can be found here


Race Report: TNF-Championships

If you've never been to the TNF-Championships, here's how I'd explain the 50 mile race: WOW. If you've been before, but you weren't there this year, here's how I'd explain it: WOW (and wet). The course was challenging and the field was indescribably deep and unimaginably fast. As I explained to some colleagues: "Temp in the 50s, minimal visibility, rain at one inch per hour, and high winds, all while running dozens of miles up and down mountains on muddy trails? Yep, that was my Saturday morning." As I told some running friends around Madison: "People were running faster than you would ever possibly imagine given the conditions." Or as Ian Sharman said to me after I had dropped from the race (I'm paraphrasing here): "Guys came through Tennessee Valley [at 8.9 miles] over five minutes faster than last year, and the conditions are way worse this year. You wouldn't have been too far behind the leaders last year through [8.9 miles] with your time." But this wasn't last year. The race was wet, the race was fast, the race was, well, absolutely crazy. As my dad, who along with my step-mom and girlfriend did a wonderful job crewing, told me later: "I wanted to pull you off the course at the [Tennessee Valley aid station at mile 8.9] and tell you to get in the car, that we were going home, that this whole thing was completely crazy. But I didn't think you'd like that." I wouldn't have.

Here's how it happened.

I glanced at my watch on the backside of the first climb, at around mile four, to find that I was ahead of course record pace. So it surprised me that I was in around 40th place. Yes, 40th. After I came through Tennessee Valley (8.9 miles) in just under seventy minutes, I ran with Justin Ricks (18th overall) and Sage Canaday's former roommate at Cornell, Brad, into the Muir Beach aid station (12.9 miles). We ran hard and blind (it was dark with nothing but fog and rain in view from the headlamp). On the climb out of Muir Beach, we moved next to Maud Gobert (32nd overall, 3rd female). Justin moved ahead, Brad fell back, and I stuck with Maud -- for the next twenty miles. Maud was in the lead almost the entire time I ran with her and, while we didn't speak too much, I really enjoyed running with her. She was amazingly graceful (despite a pretty nasty fall at mile 28): always picking the best line, moving rhythmically up the mountains, gliding down the descents. It was most enjoyable sharing the trails with her.

But the fast pace, the constant elevation change, and grueling conditions proved too much for me on Saturday. I wasn't displeased though, since I ran like hell for as long as I could. I moved past Maud around mile 29 as we began to climb. I was power hiking/running, depending on the grade of ascent, at this point. Maud seemed to be losing steam (though she bounced back well) and Emelie Forsberg (29th overall, 1st female) had passed her while gaining on me. Once I reached the top of the climb, I hammered the descent into Tennessee Valley, hoping to put ground on my pursuers. To no avail. A 6:41 mile gained me nothing (although, I was evidently in the top-25 when I ran into Tennessee Valley at mile 32). Emelie was picked up by Anna Frost at Tennessee Valley and the two of them moved past me shortly after as we began to climb 400ft over a half mile. Mike Foote (26th overall) then passed me saying, "I've felt worse, but only once or twice." The mud, the rain, and the steep ascents got to most of us, all right (but apparently not to Miguel Heras, who won is an astonishing 5hrs:33!).

By mile 34.5 I had finished the climb out of Tennessee Valley and had  been passed by only two people while mostly power hiking. When I hit the descent, however, my legs were gone. Anytime the muscles were engaged, I was almost reduced to a halt. Anytime the muscles weren't engaged, I was shuffling. No matter what I did, I couldn't get them to move. This was bad. Maud then moved past me effortlessly with her passer. And it got worse. As I made the c. 700ft plunge into Muir Beach, sliding, shuffling, and slopping around in the mud, I twisted, lost balance, and fell (sliding all the while). I managed to labor into the Muir Beach aid station, and it was there that my day ended (thanks to the folks there who warmed me up and carted me back to Tennessee Valley).

Mightn't I have finished? Of course. But perhaps at a cost. Indeed, it was during the next five mile stretch, from Muir Beach to Tennessee Valley, that Sage Canaday took a number of falls in the sloppy mess, was banged up, and dropped from the race.

It was the experience that I needed most, and that I had. This was the first challenging ultra course that I've run, and the first race with serious competition. With less than ideal training, with no mountains to train on, and with minimal experience, I had enough to hang in the top thirty-five for almost the whole race. I was running in the top-twenty five for awhile, I could climb with almost everybody that I ran with, and I had a taste for the incredible competition that is drawn to this sport.

What's more is that this was just my first full year competing in ultras. I have a good feeling about the years to come!

*Results are here.



A quick update and a race report to follow. It was a wild day on the trails: strong winds, serious fog, heavy rain, and muddy trails. Loads of DNFs and a few DNSs to go around, and, unfortunately, I was one of the DNFs, as I dropped at mile 36.3 of 46.8. I think I was in 28th or 30th when I dropped. Really a great experience though and plenty of positive things to take away from this race. More to come soon via a race report. Lastly: damn, were people running wicked fast, as you can read about here.


11/19 - 11/25

The penultimate week before the TNF-Championships looked like this:

Monday (Nov. 19): off.
Tuesday (Nov. 20): AM 8 miles, :58, 7:25/mile, loops around the Arb (trails) with Jake Hegge. Some enjoyable miles on a pleasant (and reasonably warm) morning.
Wednesday (Nov. 21): AM 13 miles, 1hr:39, 7:40/mile, Lewis and Clark trails, MO. First loop, consisting of 8 miles, in 60minutes:44seconds; second loop, about 5 miles, in 38minutes:40seconds. Fun trails with a number of sharp climbs along the bluffs of the Missouri River.
Thursday (Nov. 22): AM 8+ miles, :59, 7:14/mile, Wydown Rd. to Forest Park (road/trail), MO.
Friday (Nov. 23): AM 8 miles, 3 x 1600m @ 5:14, 5:14, 5:19, Washington University track, MO. 2.25 mile warm-up; 2.25 mile cool-down. 600m recovery jog between reps. Incredibly windy, which made half of each lap much more difficult.
Saturday (Nov. 24): AM 8+ miles, :57, 7:02/mile, Wydown Rd. to Forest Park (road/trail), MO.
Sunday (Nov. 25): off.

Weekly Totals: ~45 miles, ~5hrs:30. Feeling great. And less than a week until San Francisco!


11/12 - 11/18

My illness continued into this week but I was still able to have some solid training runs. Here goes:

Monday (Nov. 12): off. The cold has been quite debilitating.
Tuesday (Nov. 13): off. Cold lingering.
Wednesday (Nov. 14): PM 10 miles, 1hr:13, 7:22/mile, out-and-back on the Cap City Trail to the Arb (road). I finally managed to have some energy and to fell well enough to get out the door. I'm still not feeling great, but I couldn't keep taking days off.
Thursday (Nov. 15): AM 6 miles, :39, 6:22/mile, Monona Bay loop (pavements/single track). A quick six miles before a long day. Trying not to do too much too soon.
Friday (Nov. 16): AM 10 miles, 1hr:16, 7:37/mile, loops around the Arb (trail). Starting to feel back to normal (or at least close). PM 8 miles, :58, 7:09/mile, big Monona Bay loop with add-ons. I've had plenty of rest today and this week so I'm feeling quite a bit better this evening.
Saturday (Nov. 17): AM 22.5 miles, 3hrs:15, 8:45/mile, Devil's Lake. An excellent training run in preparation for San Francisco. An educated estimate would be 5,000' of elevation gain during the run: up the South side of the East bluff, down the North side; up the North side of the West bluff, down the South side; up the South side of the West bluff, down the North side; up the North side of the East bluff, down the North side, five miles out and five miles back on the rolling Ice Age Trail, and finally up the North side of the East bluff and back down the South side to finish.
Sunday (Nov. 18): AM 14 miles, 1hr:44, 7:27/mile, Arb (trails/road). First nine miles with Hank on the trails in 71 minutes; last five miles on the road solo in 33 minutes.

Weekly Totals: 70.5 miles, ~9 hours. The last two weeks have been less than ideal, but I feel confident after a final strong week of training. Now I'll ease back and get rested for the TNF-Championships.

The East bluff from the Southern end of Devil's Lake

The East bluff, as seen from the West bluff.

The apex of the East bluff on the South side.

Driving into Devil's Lake

A barren, but sunny, November day in Wisconsin. 


11/05 - 11/11

This week began as planned but was derailed by a viscous cold. After not being sick for three years, I paid the price this time: I've been out of commission for four days. But here's how last week looked:

Monday (Nov. 5): PM 10 miles, 1hr:13, 7:17/mile, out-and-back on the Cap City trail to the Arb (road). A pleasant run on a dark, cold, rainy evening.
Tuesday (Nov. 6): PM 10 miles, 1hr:16, 7:36/mile, Cap City trail to the Turville Point trails. Again cold and again dark. Running through the woods made for a fun time.
Wednesday (Nov. 7): AM 12 miles, 1hr:27, 40 x 20/40 workout, out-and-back on the Cap City trail to the Arb (road). This is the longest workout of 20 seconds sprint, 40 seconds easy that I've done but it felt as easy or easier than the shorter ones. That's a good sign. The workout made for almost 6.5 miles, averaging anywhere from 6:08/mile to 6:22/mile.
Thursday (Nov. 8): AM 10 miles, 1hr:24, 8:28/mile, loops around the Arb with Hank. I was certainly feeling the effects of the effort yesterday; taking it easy with Hank felt good.
Friday (Nov. 9): AM 10 miles, 1hr:06, 6:36/mile, 5 miles @ around 5:45/mile. 2.5 mile warm up and 2.5 mile cool down with some fast miles in between.
Saturday (Nov. 10): off. When I woke up feeling sick, I thought I'd be able to rest and hit the trails by the afternoon. I was wrong.
Sunday (Nov. 11): off. Symptoms worsened and at the worst time of training!

Weekly Totals: 52 miles, 6hrs:30. The planned 24-mile run on Saturday and 15-mile run on Sunday had to be bagged. Those would have been nice to get in, since both involved lots of hills. There's still a window of time to improve fitness before the TNF-Championships. The only good news at this point is that I'm already it great shape.


10/29 - 11/04

Mostly favorable results following race week. Here's how it looked:

Monday (Oct. 29): off. Soreness has mostly subsided. A 30 minute swim helped.
Tuesday (Oct. 30): off. Feeling close to normal but want to give it one more day. Another swim, 35 minutes.
Wednesday (Oct. 31): AM 10 miles, 1hr:17, 7:37/mile, loops around the Arb (trail). Really felt good. My legs felt a bit heavy during the latter miles, especially my quads (but no soreness or pain lingering in the knee or hip--good news).
Thursday (Nov. 1): PM 12 miles, 1hr:27, 7:17, out-and-back on the Cap City Trail to the Arb (road/trail). Still a bit tighter than I'd like to be; so, I might have to run a few fewer miles this week than I'd like.
Friday (Nov. 2): AM 10 miles, 1hr:24, 8:33/mile, loops around the Arb (trail) with Hank. Easy miles with Hank early this morning. The easy pace was probably best.
Saturday (Nov. 3): off. I might have run today but I was tired and I figure I can finally squash the soreness with one last day off for awhile.
Sunday (Nov. 4): AM 12 miles, 1hr:15, 6:15/mile, SMR loop plus one mile, miles 5 - 11 (7 miles) in 41:26 (5:55/mile). Strong run. I had an easy start with a 7:03 mile followed by a 6:48 mile before picking it up and ending on my fastest mile of the day (5:45). PM 7 miles, :50, 7:08/mile, loop around Monona Bay. Some easy miles to end the week.

Weekly Totals: 51 miles, The plan is to run 80 - 90 miles each of the next two weeks before backing off considerably during the last two weeks of the month leading up to TNF-Championships.
October Totals: 258 miles, 32hrs:15. Again, nothing spectacular this month. However, given the strong base that I established over the summer, and which improved my endurance, the fewer miles haven't hurt my fitness and the increased amount of speed work has done well to fine tune my speed.


10/22 - 10/28

Race week! Here are the details:

Monday (Oct. 22): off
Tuesday (Oct. 23): AM 10.5 miles, 3 x 2,000m repeats @ 6:50 (5:29 mile), 6:44 (5:24 mile), 6:36 (5:18 mile) with Fran at the UW track. 800m recovery jog after the first repeat; four minutes standing rest after the second repeat. Perfect workout: well paced and increasingly faster.
Wednesday (Oct. 24): AM 8 miles, :57, 7:10/mile, out-and-back on the Cap City Trail.
Thursday (Oct. 25): off
Friday (Oct. 26): AM 6 miles, :41, 6:50/mile, loop around Monona Bay. Feeling fresh, rested, and ready to go! 4 x 100m strides as a final tune up.
Saturday (Oct. 27): AM 51 miles, Surf the Murph 50 Mile, Minnesota, 1st place, 6:55:43 (course record). For a detailed recap, see my Race Report: Surf the Murph 50 Mile.
Sunday (Oct. 28): off

Weekly Totals: 74.5 miles, 9hrs:50. A great week. And more to come in preparation for the TNF-Championships on December 1st.

Race Report: Surf the Murph 50 Mile

Make friends with pain and you will never be alone. So a sign read along the Surf the Murph course on Saturday.

It's especially important to make friends with pain if you want to run down the competition. It's never an easy task to be chasing the leaders during a race: there is constantly a sense of urgency that can result in a faster pace in the middle of the race and subsequently a DNF; the miles seem longer as you turn each corner with the hopes of spotting your prey; it's very easy to fold mentally, to give up hope, to accept defeat.

I had a breakthrough today: I finally learned how to hunt down prey. I ran the first lap (16.96 miles) with Eric (second place finisher last year) and Jason (TNF-Madison fourth place finisher previously). Since I hadn't a crew to assist me, I had to drop by my car after lap one and, due to frozen fingers and some other confusion, I was about three minutes behind, in third place, as I started the second of three loops. Relax, I told myself, they will come back to you. I've been in this situation before: they've rarely (if ever) come back to me. But I was pacing well, and fueling well, and my heart rate was low, and my legs felt good, and I kept tearing down the descents and churning out the ascents, and floating through the flats.

And then it happened: they came back to me. First, at mile 23, I turned a corner and there he was: Eric, clad in blue, waning. I closed the 50 yard gap and, after a brief chat, moved easily into second. Patience, I told myself, you still have half of the race left. And then it happened again: at mile 28, I turned a corner and there was Jason, wearing all black, roughly a quarter of a mile ahead. I relaxed. I knew I was exactly were I wanted to be. I took my time: I closed slowly, I watched his every step, I felt him tiring, I gained strength. After a brief chat with him, I moved into first, where I remained for the last twenty miles, all by myself.

It's a tough lesson to learn but one that must be learned: how to be the predator instead of the prey. Today was a tough lesson learned.

Result: 1st place, 6:55:43, course record. 
*50 mile (50.8 miles), 50km (33.9 miles), and 25km (16.96 miles) results can be found here


10/15 - 10/21

Here's what the penultimate week before the Surf the Murph 50 looks like:

Monday (Oct. 15): PM 10.5 miles, 1hr:13, 6:58/mile, around Monona Bay to the Arb (road and trails). It's been nice to run injury free. I'm feeling good.
Tuesday (Oct. 16): off. Busy today and I don't want too many miles this week.
Wednesday (Oct. 17): AM 10 miles, 30 x 20/40 workout, out-and-back on the Cap City Trail to the Arb (road). 20 seconds of hard running, 40 seconds of easy jogging. The workout made for around five miles of 6:20/mile pace.
Thursday (Oct. 18): AM 10.5 miles, 1hr:20, 7:45/mile, loops around the Arb trails. Legs were feeling a little tight from yesterday so I kept an easy pace.
Friday (Oct. 19): PM 12 miles, 3 x 1mile @ 5:20, 5:11, 5:14 with 800m recovery jog between sets. 30 minute warm up and then I ran the repeats on the road at the Arb (on a flatter section).
Saturday (Oct. 20): AM 12.5 miles, 1hr:50, 8:55/mile, loops around Indian Lake with Hank. A splendid morning with cool temperatures and a gorgeous sunrise (see below).
Sunday (Oct. 21): off. The first of a couple days off to prepare for Surf the Murph.

Weekly Totals: 55.5 miles, 6hrs:55. I'll try to continue with two speed related workouts a week for the next several weeks in preparation for the TNF 50 Championships. I also hope to bump up mileage starting with next week.

The sun rising over the bluffs at Indian Lake, WI

Fog settling in the early morning at Indian Lake, WI

A classic Fall morning: frosty trails, colorful trees, and a foggy lake.


10/08 - 10/14

Finally, a week of running without IT band or knee issues. I continued to take it easy, but I was able to incorporate a few faster runs. Here goes:

Monday (Oct. 8): off
Tuesday (Oct. 9): PM 8+ miles, :58, 6:49/mile, out-and-back around Monona Bay to the Arb (road). After a long and eventful weekend, I was still feeling a little wiped.
Wednesday (Oct. 10): AM 11 miles, 3 x 2 mile repeats @ 11:12, (5:35, 5:37), 11:26 (5:49, 5:37), 12:10 (6:07, 6:03) with 800 recovery jog between sets on the Cap City Trail. Not a bad effort, although not terribly well paced. There was a stiff headwind at the turnaround and I had to burn a few matches, so to speak, to keep up the tempo during the second repeat into the wind (i.e. I had to use a lot more effort to sustain the same pace), which made for heavy legs on the last repeat.
Thursday (Oct. 11): AM 11 miles, 1hr:20, 7:13/mile, out-and-back on the Cap City Trail to the Arb (road). Easy miles in the am.
Friday (Oct. 12): AM 6 miles, :44, 7:11/mile, loops around the Orville Point Trails. A few miles in the morning to get loose. PM 6 miles, :39, 6:32/mile, loops around the Arb trails. A few fast trail miles, including a couple miles on a golf course (always fun).
Saturday (Oct. 13): PM 12 miles, 1hr:16, 6:19/mile, miles 2 - 11 in 1hr:01:21 (6:08/mile), Military Ridge Trail from Mt. Horeb. I was really pleased with this run. Despite poor conditions -- rain and wets trails -- I kept a strong pace and it felt quite comfortable. Last four of the middle ten in 23:37 (5:55, 6:02, 5:51, 5:49).
Sunday (Oct. 14): off. An altogether miserable day: rain, wind, cold. Props to the folks who rain in the Glacial Trail 50 today (especially Hank Southgate and winner Chris Rubesch).

Weekly Totals: 54 miles, 6hrs:10. Tame, but I'm feeling healthy. Surf the Murph in two weeks!


10/01 - 10/07

I've been quite busy with friends in town, class work, etc. but here's the rundown on last week:

Monday (Oct. 1): AM ~12 miles, 1hr:23, 6:53/mile, out-and-back along Monona Bay into an Arb loop (road). Knee still ailing. The brisk pace seemed to feel more comfortable than slower miles so I kept a steady clip.
Tuesday (Oct. 2): AM 10+ miles, 5 x 1,000m @ 3:30, 3:17, 3:17, 3:12, 3:11. 30 minute warmup before meeting Fran at the track. 400m jog between sets. We eased into the workout since both of us had been from serious speed work for some time. It felt good to get moving. Felt some sharp pain in my knee during the 20 minute cool down.
Wednesday (Oct. 3): AM 10 miles, 1hr:14, 7:20/mile, out-and-back on the Cap City Trail. Recovering from yesterday, same story with the knee.
Thursday (Oct. 4): off. Knee issues + a long day of teaching = rest.
Friday (Oct. 5): AM 12 miles, 1hr:30, 7:32/mile, loops around the Arb (trail). Still feeling sharp pain, especially around miles 9 and 10. The rolling hills (especially the down hill) were painful.
Saturday (Oct. 6): AM 20 miles, 2hrs:44, 8:12/mile, out-and-back from Hank's house to the Ice Age Trail. I made it through this one, and my knee was pain free during the second half, but I felt some serious pain from miles 4 to 7 during this run. Sharp, shooting pain like I've never felt before. Boy, did it hurt. But I kept moving (although silently) until it worked itself out and the second half was smooth sailing. I'm heading to St. Louis in a week and a half to see my chiropractor to get this issue settled before my next race.
Sunday (Oct. 7): off. I though it'd be smart to take it easy after yesterday. And I had friends in town to enjoy my time with.

Weekly Totals: 64 miles, 8 hours. Less than notable totals, but I need to focus on getting my knee/IT band back to normal. The good news is that I ran today (10/9) and didn't feel even a hint of pain. Let's hope that continues!


09/24 - 09/30

Although I was set back a few days because of my knee, I ended up having a decent week on four days of running. It's all here:

Monday (Sept. 24): off. 42 minute swim. My knee was really sore in the morning, which had me worried, but it seemed to get better throughout the day.
Tuesday (Sept. 25): off. 40 minute swim. The swimming seems to help; feeling better.
Wednesday (Sept. 26): off. 45 minute swim. I should be able to get back on the trails tomorrow, as my knee, though not without pain, feels much better.
Thursday (Sept. 27): AM 7+ miles, 1hr:02, 8:45/mile, loops around the Arb with Hank. Slight pain during the run, especially during the second half, but a nice, easy first run of the week. PM 3.5 mile run to the SERF, 30 minute swim, 1.5 mile run back, around 6:30/mile during the runs. The swimming seemed to help again and my knee felt much better.
Friday (Sept. 28): AM 10 miles, 1hr:08, 6:45/mile, 20 x 20sec sprint, out-and-back on the Cap City Trail. I pulled this 20/40 workout from Zach Bitter (though it's similar to the 200m repeat workout that I do): 35 minute warm up, 20 x 20sec sprint, 40sec recovery, cool down. This makes for a few fast miles and for activation of fast twitch muscle fibers. Some speed felt good.
Saturday (Sept. 29): AM 26 miles, 3hrs:23, 7:45/mile, Military Ridge Trail with Hank. Great morning for a long run. We took it easy, fueled well, etc. There was a nagging pain in my knee the first ten miles but I felt much better during the last sixteen. 
Sunday (Sept. 30): AM 12 miles, 1hr:22, 6:53/mile, SMR loop plus one mile with a five-man SMR group. Up tempo on the pavement has been tough since TNF Madison, but I finished the run without any serious pain and without soreness thereafter. My knee seems to be coming around (finally).

Weekly Totals: 60 miles, ~7hrs:30. In upcoming weeks, I plan to increase mileage and to add lots of speed work in preparation for the Surf the Murph at the end of the month. 
Monthly Totals: 250 miles, ~28hrs. A fairly tame month but, given all the travel, the start of school, and the race in the middle of the month, not surprisingly so. More miles next month!


09/17 - 09/23

Mixed results this week following the race. Here's the word:

Monday (Sept. 17): off. Soreness has reduced considerably. Good news!
Tuesday (Sept. 18): off. 15 minute swim at the UW Serf. Feeling back to normal.
Wednesday (Sept. 19): AM 10 miles, 1hr:14, 7:26/mile, out-and-back on the Cap City Trail to the Arb. Some easy miles on a cool morning. I felt some tightness in my hips and IT band on the way back.
Thursday (Sept. 20): AM 8 miles, :56, 7:05/mile, out-and-back through the city to the Lakefront Trail. Started feeling tightness in my knee with some shooting pain. I was able to finish but my knee is feeling sore.
Friday (Sept. 21): off. Knee still sore. Seems to be an IT band issue.
Saturday (Sept. 22): PM 3-4 miles round trip run to the pool, 42 minute swim. More swimming to stay off the knee; a few miles on the feet didn't seem too taxing.
Sunday (Sept. 23): AM 11+ miles, 1hr:13, 6:36/mile, SMR loop with Hank & Fran. A nice up tempo run. Started feeling tightness in my right knee about halfway. A bit concerned. But a 55 mile bike ride in the afternoon seemed to help. I'll give ice and some strengthening exercises a try.

Weekly totals: ~35 miles, ~4 hours. Supplemented with some swimming and biking, still not a bad week from a training standpoint. Hoping my knee will cooperate and the mileage will pick back up in the coming weeks.


TNF Madison: Nutrition and Supplements

Of the three 50 mile events that I have competed in to date, the 2012 TNF Madison was, by any criteria of success, the most successful. This success was due, in large part, to my fueling before and during the race. Unlike my first 50 mile race last year (the only other 50 mile race that I have completed) -- the Voyageur 50 -- I never experienced any extreme lows. I attribute this fact to a change in nutrition and supplements. First, my pre-race consumption consisted of:

Supplements 1 B-vitamin, 2 Hammer Mito Caps, 2 Hammer Race Caps Supreme, 1 S! Cap
Nutrition 1 table spoon of Udo's Oil, 1 bowl of rice chex, and 1 banana about three hours before the race; 1 Hammer gel fifteen minutes before the race
Hydration 20-30oz of water, 12 oz coffee

I arrived on the start line without feeling full, heavy, or hungry. Especially promising was the fact that I felt energized and well fueled as the 5am start approached.

Second, my consumption during the race, perhaps the most important aspect of a successful race, was consistent and well balanced. I consumed roughly 220-240 calories per hour and roughly 20-30oz of half water / half electrolyte replacement per hour. In addition, I continued to take Mito Caps, Race Caps Supreme, and S! Caps. The totals were thus:

Supplements 5 S! Caps, 4 Mito Caps, 4 Race Caps Supreme
Nutrition A total of ~1,400 calories, which included 4 servings of Hammer Perpetuem (~1,080 cals), 3 Hammer Gels (~270 cals), 1/4 of a banana (~25 cals)
Hydration 140oz of half water / half electrolyte replacement, 2 small cups of mountain dew, 1 small cup of pepsi

I started using Perpetuem over the summer and saw improvement in performance. The product has an 8 to 1 ratio of soy protein to complex carbohydrates and a 16 to 1 ratio of fat to complex carbs. The combination gives the body a bit of fat to burn, a lot of slowly digestible complex carbs, and just enough soy protein (the easiest protein to digest quickly) to help muscle repair during the run. The gels served as a quick and easy way to consume calories if I began to feel hungry (this, too, is a complex carbohydrate, but without any fat or protein).

While the second half of the race proved more difficult, and though the pace did diminish, this was largely due to the continuous pounding from the downhills. My performance didn't diminish much, but the decrease in performance did not seem to be the result of nutrition based shortcomings.

Given my success at TNF Madison, I plan to continue to implement this nutrition/supplement schedule in future races.


Race Report: TNF Madison 50 mile

What a day to race! The conditions for the race on Saturday in Kettle Moraine Park were pristine: the start temperature was around 45 degrees, the temperature stayed cool throughout the first half of the race and didn't rise above the the low 70s until the afternoon (at which time I was already done!). With a 5am start time, most of the race was run without the sun overhead and, even later in the morning, the numerous wooded sections of the course kept the trails out of the sun. The trails themselves were primarily packed dirt with some grass, sand, and rock mixed in. All told, it was a day for record breaking (both the first and second place finishers broke the previous course record).

When the gun went off I paced easily and found myself alone in second place after a half mile. The single head lamp ahead was within 100m and on the first (brief) climb, at around the first mile, I pulled up next to a swift moving figure with a British accent. I quickly discovered that this British sounding fellow was Ian Sharman. Yes, Ian Sharman. So here I was, in the middle of the woods in Wisconsin, running with one of the top ultra distance runners in the world (a 5th place finish at the 2012 Western States should, without dispute, establish anyone has a top ultra runner in the world). The pace wasn't taxing, around 7:10/mile, so I figured I'd stick around and chat with Ian Sharman. I managed to do so through the 21 mile aid station, where Ian and I left with a slim lead over the third and fourth place competitors. We then entered the most undulating section of the course and Ian, with his impressive ability to descend lightening fast, put some ground on me. Shortly thereafter I was caught by our pursuers and, suddenly, I found myself in 4th place. But we were only at mile 24, so the race hadn't really begun just yet. I eased back, tried to stay relaxed, and cruised into the 28 mile aid station with a ~4 minute deficit on Ian and Mike (the eventual 2nd place finisher) and a ~2 minute deficit on the 3rd place runner.

After the turnaround I tried to focus on maintaining a decent clip back to the 35 mile aid station. I wanted to save my legs for the flats later on so I ended up power hiking portions of the ascents, and moving gingerly down the descents, on this seven mile stretch (subsequently, I lost a good amount of time on the leaders). When I arrived at the 35 mile aid station, I was trailing the leaders by 10 minutes and the third place runner by 3 minutes. I needed to start moving. I knew that a portion of the remaining course was fast (flat or downhill), so I picked up the pace a bit and, just a mile before the 40 mile aid station, I caught the 3rd place runner walking up one of the steeper climbs. Now in third place, I cruised through the 40 mile aid station and hoped to potentially move into second. But Ian and Mike stayed strong (more than strong) through 50 miles. My legs, which started to feel the effects of pounding descents at mile 20, were banged up and I was reduced to power hiking on steeper sections. Realizing that the leaders were out of reach, and that 3rd place was all but secured, I ran the last section of the course (about four miles) at a leisurely pace and enjoyed what was left of the race.

The outcome: 3rd place, 6:20:57 (7:38/mile), and a $350 prize! In truth, I believe that the course is 1 or 1.5 miles short, so my "true" fifty mile time might have been closer to 6:30:00. In any case, it was a PB by two hours and I had the distinct pleasure of taking advice about ultra running for over two hours from Ian Sharman. Not a bad day!

Final results here.
**It is worth noting that the race was quite a bit closer than the results reveal. The winning time was in fact, and Ian would readily admit, 5:57 rather than 5:47.
**Also, a short report in the Running Times here.

And, as always, thanks to the North Face employees and the many volunteers for putting on an excellent race. The pre-race and post-race activities, as well as the on course support, were fantastic! Lastly, thanks to my lovely mother and sister for crewing throughout the race; I couldn't have done it without them.

Ian and I at mile 16 (Thanks to Wes at the North Face for the photo)

50 mile podium (from left to right): Myself, Mike, Ian, Dean.

09/10 - 09/16

Race week! Here's the breakdown:

Monday (Sept. 10): off.
Tuesday (Sept. 11): 8 miles, :57, 7:10/mile, out-and-back on the Cap City Trail to the Turville Point trails. Relaxed miles. Felt good.
Wednesday (Sept. 12): 6 miles, :41, 6:50/mile, Cap City Trail to Monona Bay loop. A bit up tempo today with 4 x 30sec pick-ups.
Thursday (Sept. 13): off.
Friday (Sept. 14): 5 miles, :38, 7:30/mile, out-and-back on the Cap City Trail. Easy miles and feeling rested.
Saturday (Sept. 15): The North Face Endurance Challenge - Madison 50 mile, Kettle Moraine State Park, WI, 3rd place, 6:20:57, 7:38/mile. See my Race Report: TNF Madison 50 mile for more.
Sunday (Sept. 16): off. I'm feeling much less sore than I had expected. Should be back on the trails by Tuesday or Wednesday.

Weekly Totals: 69 miles, 8hrs:40. A strong race performance and a great deal gained in experience during the race. Back to training in a few days.


09/03 - 09/09

Monday (Sept. 3): off. Taking it easy.
Tuesday (Sept. 4): PM 9.5, 1hr:08, 7:10/mile, out-and-back on Cap City trail to Turville Point trails, Madison, WI. I'm starting to feel more rested. Nothing special here, just some easy miles.
Wednesday (Sept. 5): AM 8.5, :59, 6:55/mile, out-and-back on Cap City Trail, Madison, WI.
Thursday (Sept. 6): off. Two hours of sand volleyball!
Friday (Sept. 7): AM ~11 miles, 1hr:30, 8:15/mile, loops around the Arb with Hank, Madison, WI. Some easy miles and good conversation with Hank starting at 5:30am.
Saturday (Sept. 8): AM 10 miles, 2 x 1 mile @ 5:21, 5:24, 2mins rest between miles, Forest Park, St. Louis, MO. I did an easy three and a half miles with my sister and then ran over to Forest Park for the repeats. I was breathing a bit heavy after the second mile but the pace felt pretty smooth throughout. I needed a little speed today for a mental boost.
Sunday (Sept. 9): PM ~10 miles, 1hr:08, 6:45/mile, 8 x 30sec pick-ups, Wydown Rd. to Forest Park Loop to Hoover Ave, St. Louis, MO. My legs are feeling good and my body is starting to feel rested.

Weekly Totals: ~49 miles, ~6 hours. Last week my legs were a bit heavy and I felt generally fatigued. This week my legs were feeling much looser and I felt more rested. More rest and some mental preparation should have me in great condition for TNF-Madison.


08/27 - 09/02

It's time to take it easy. TNF is three weeks away and I want to be rested for this one. Here goes:

Monday (Aug. 27): PM 1hr:25, 11-12 miles, out-and-back on Schultz Creek Trail to the Arizona Trail, Flagstaff, AZ. I felt surprisingly good, and the pace was surprisingly brisk, after two hard weeks.
Tuesday (Aug. 28): AM 16 x 200m @ 35 - 38 secs, 110m jog in between, ~7 miles, Flagstaff High School track. Very smooth 200s followed by a day of kayaking on the Verde River!
Wednesday (Aug. 29): PM 1hr:20, ~10 miles, out-and-back on Rocky Ridge Trail to Old Oldham Trail, Flagstaff, AZ. A final run in Flagstaff before the 1,400 mile trek back to the Midwest. A pleasant ending to an altogether spectacular month.
Thursday (Aug. 30): off.
Friday (Aug. 31): off. Very tried from travel and little sleep.
Saturday (Sept. 1): off. 12 hours of sleep over a three night period due to travel, visiting with family and friends. Yikes! I'll need lots of sleep the next two weeks.
Sunday (Sept. 2): AM 17 miles, 1hr:54, 6:45/mile, Wydown Rd. to two times Forest Park loop and back down Wydown Rd, St. Louis, MO. I certainly was feeling tired the last 10km or so but I maintained a brisk pace throughout. The air is so breathable near sea level!

Weekly Totals: 5hrs:45, roughly 45 to 46 miles. Although the mileage and time training was considerably less this week, I still felt fatigued from the travel and socializing. I'll run between 45 and 50 miles next week and, will plenty or rest, should really start to feel ready for the race.

August Totals: ~61hrs:30, ~400 miles. Quite a month!


08/20 - 08/26

Mileage at 7,000'+ feet does not come easy. I was reminded of that this week, as I was quite fatigued from the effort last week and the continued miles. A very good way to practice running tired though!

Monday (Aug. 20): off. Rather fatigued.
Tuesday (Aug. 21): PM 2hrs:10, 15-16 miles, loop from Schultz Creek Trail to Arizona Trail to Fort Valley Trail to Moto Trail to the Poker Trail to Chimney Trail and back down Schultz Creek. I was still quite fatigued today. Spent most of the day sleeping or lounging.
Wednesday (Aug. 22): AM 1hr:04, ~8 miles, out-and-back on the Schultz Creek Trail to Rocky Ridge Trail to the Brookbank Trailhead. Felt a bit stronger on the run this morning. I pushed the pace and made in to Brookbank Trail over three minutes faster than my previous best time. PM 1hrs:48, ~13 miles, out-and-back on Schultz Creek Trail to Sunset Trail. Tired from the morning effort but did a nice job of staying strong on the climbs.
Thursday (Aug. 23): AM :45, ~7 miles, 3 mile "float workout" in 17:59 (5:52, 6:00, 6:07). 200m "on" at 36 - 39 secs, 200m "off" at 48 - 54 secs. The legs were definitely heavy but it was good to get the legs moving. 17 min warmup on the infield and 10 min cool down. AM :38, ~4 leisurely miles with my cousin. Some easy miles on pavement for the first time since I've been in Flagstaff.
Friday (Aug. 24): AM 2hrs:20, ~10 miles, out-and-back on the Humphreys Peak Trail from Snowbowl (~9,200') to the Weatherford Trail (~12,000) to the summit of Humphreys Peak (12, 637'). PM 1hr, 7-8 miles, out-and-back on the Schultz Creek Trail. 1hr:23 to summit, 17 minutes better than a plebeian 1hr:40 last week. Averaged 15min/mile for the first four miles and 23 minutes on the final mile along the rim; 56 minutes on the decent (9 minutes better than last week). All told, I think I could get closer or below 1hr:10 to the summit with another go.
Saturday (Aug. 25): PM 3hrs, 20-21 miles, out-and-back from the Schultz Creek Trailhead (~7,100) to the Sunset Trail to the Weatherford Trail (up to ~9,600'). Still quite tired; slept all morning. Lots of climbing on this one and it was tough.
Sunday (Aug. 26): AM 1hr:45, ~12 miles, Rocky Ridge Trail to Brookbank Trail to Schultz Loop to Dry Lake Hills Trail to Schultz Creek Trail. Super early run (about a 5:30am start) and my legs, body, lungs, and basically every functioning organ were really burnt out from the effort the last two weeks. Made it through.

Weekly Totals: ~14hrs:30, somewhere between (roughly) 96 to 99 miles. With a day off, I'm happy with the mileage. Lots of positives, especially the number of tired miles. Time to begin to relax and ease up in preparation for TNF Madison.

Humphreys Peak from Elden Lookout Rd. Flagstaff, AZ.

At the intersection of Humphreys Peak Trail and the Weatherford Trail (~12,000').

A few "no-no's" on the Humphreys Peak Trail.

Humphreys Peak (12,637'), high above the clouds.


08/13 - 08/19

What a week! Have a look:

Monday (Aug. 13): AM 1hr, 8 x 400 @ 77secs, 75, 76, 77, 76, 76, 75, 71 with 120m jog rest between sets. ~7 miles. Finally feeling strong on the track after a few weeks at altitude. 20 min warm up running barefoot on the infield; 20 min cool down running barefoot on the infield. PM 1hr:30, out-and-back on Schultz Creek Trail to Rocky Ridge Trail to Brookbank Trail. ~10 easy miles in the afternoon.
Tuesday (Aug. 14): PM 2hrs, out-and-back on Schultz Creek Trail to Arizona Trail. ~14 miles on rolling single track running between 7,800' and 8,200'.
Wednesday (Aug. 15): Something new today: 3 x 1hr with a few hour break between runs. The idea is to run plenty of miles but at a faster pace. AM 1hr, Schultz Creek Trail to Poker Trail; PM 1hr, Schultz Creek Trail; PM 1hr Schultz Creek Trail to Rocky Ridge Trail. 22-23 miles total.
Thursday (Aug. 16): AM 2 hour mountain bike ride from Snowbowl down the Arizona trail to Elden Lookout Rd. My uncle, cousin, and I took out the bikes on a sunny morning that turned stormy (it was a blast riding in the rain) for my uncle's birthday. PM 1hr:10 Schultz Creek Trail to Sunset Trailhead. 8-9 miles. Some easy miles in the late afternoon as the storm subsided.
Friday (Aug. 17): AM 3hrs:30, from Snowbowl (9,200') up Humphrey's Trail to Weatherford Trail to the summit of Humphrey's Peak (12,637'), then down the Weatherford Trail behind Agassiz Peak (12,356') and back down Humphrey's Trail. ~13 miles. It took 1hr:40 to ascend ~3,400' in five miles. I averaged roughly 15min/mile the first three miles, 26mins on the fourth mile and 29mins on the fifth mile. The latter part of the trail (roughly the last two miles) was mostly un-runnable--super steep! I wanted to get a feel for this trail today in the hopes of running it hard next week; I hope to summit in under 1hr:30.
Saturday (Aug. 18): AM 5hrs, Schultz Creek Trail (trailhead at ~7,100') to Arizona Trail up to Snowbowl (~9,200'); across the base of Agassiz Peak on the Kachina Trail and then down the Weatherford Trail to the Sunset Trailhead, across Schultz Loop Trail to the Dry Hills Lake Trail and back down Schultz Creek Trail. 31-32 miles. Excellent run! Per usual, I was caught in an afternoon monsoon but much enjoyed running the wet trails. I was reduced to hiking a number of times on the Kachina Trail between miles 14 and 21, as I had hit a low point, but bounced back to finish strong over the last hour and a half.
Sunday (Aug. 19): AM 3hrs:35, Rocky Ridge Trail to the Brookbank Trail to Sunset Trail up to Mt. Elden (9,299'), back down Sunset Trail and the down Little Bear Trail to Little Elden Springs Trail past Schultz Tank to the Schultz Creek Trail. 22-23 miles. It was quite a battle today and, I submit, probably the most beneficial run I've ever had. The first hour and a half was plain torture: my body was tired, I climbed ~2,100' feet, and I was mentally drained. But I was able to overcome the fatigue and run well the last two hours. Good stuff.

Weekly Totals: 20hrs:45, somewhere between (roughly) 127 and 131 miles. A fantastic week: altitude, speed work, TONS of hill work, and TONS of miles. The only way to make it better: follow it up with another great week!

Friday's agenda: Humphrey's Peak. Snowbowl, AZ.

At the top of Humphrey's Trail (~12,000'), overlooking the San. Fran. Peaks.

Agassiz Peak, as seen from Humphrey's Peak.

A hop, a skip, and a fall on the Kachina Trail.

Beautiful Aspen trees at 9,000' on the Kachina Trail, AZ.

A view of Mt. Elden (9,299') from the Sunset Trail, AZ.

More difficult for horses, moderately difficult for runners.


08/06 - 08/12

I'm staying at the house of my aunt and uncle in Flagstaff this month and their location, in the foothills of the San Francisco Peaks, is ideal for trail running. For a glimpse into the extensive trail systems in and around Flagstaff, you can explore this link:

Monday (Aug. 6): off. After a big weekend (6+ hours of running) and a long week, I was in need of a break.
Tuesday (Aug. 7): PM 1hr:30, out-and-back on the Schultz Creek Trail to the Arizona Trail.
Wednesday (Aug. 8): PM 12 x 200m @ 37 seconds each, 120m jog rest. It was nice to feel a little speed! PM 1hr, out-and-back on the Schultz Creek Trail to the Rocky Ridge Trail. Wonderful views on Rocky Ridge.
Thursday (Aug. 9): PM 2hrs, out-and-back on the Schultz Creek Trail to the Arizona Trail. Some good climbing the first 3.5 miles (1,100') followed by a mountain traverse.
Friday (Aug. 10): PM 1hr:22, out-and-back down 28th street to Baseline Rd up Flagstaff Trail, Boulder, CO. An enjoyable return to the Boulder trails during a visit to see my sister. Flagstaff mtn summit at ~7,000', Flagstaff Trailhead at ~5,800'.
Saturday (Aug. 11): AM 2hrs, easy hiking with my sisters and mom up and around Mt. Sanitas (~6,900'). My run yesterday finished at 7:30pm and I was still feeling a bit fatigued today so I took it easy.
Sunday (Aug. 12): AM 3hrs:10, Mesa Trail from Chautauqua Park to South Mesa Trailhead, up and back Doudy Draw Trail, across the Community Ditch Trail, down the Marshall Mesa Trail and along Marshall Road to the South Boulder Creek Trail until Baseline Rd, west on Baseline and up 28th. A long, leisurely Sunday run in warm temperatures and sunshine.

Weekly Totals: ~12 hours. In all likelihood, fewer miles this week than last. The altitude adjustment seems to have manifested itself so the next few weeks should include considerably more time on the trails.

Green Mountain as seen from Mt. Sanitas, Boulder, CO.

The Flatirons, Boulder, CO.

The cousins, Flagstaff, AZ.


07/30 - 08/05

I traveled toward Flagstaff, AZ early in the week, spending a night in Texas on the way, before visiting the Grand Canyon and finally settling back in Flagstaff. Here's the scoop:

Monday (July 30): 1hr:25, Wydown Rd. to Forest Park loop, St. Louis, MO. Legs felt fine after the half race Saturday.
Tuesday (July 31): 1hr, Palo Duro State Park, TX. Easy miles, warm morning.
Wednesday (Aug. 1): 1hr, easy hike on Grand View Trail (Trailhead at 7,250'), Grand Canyon, AZ.
Thursday (Aug. 2): 2hrs:20, up and down Bright Angel Trail (Trailhead at 6,850'), Grand Canyon, AZ. Around 7,000' of elevation change up and down the canyon.
Friday (Aug. 3): 1hr, easy miles, Schultz Creek Canyon Trail, Flagstaff, AZ. Trailhead at around 7,100'
Saturday (Aug. 4): 2hrs:40, Schultz Creek to Arizona Trail, Flagstaff, AZ. Some hiking, mostly running on beautiful single track.
Sunday (Aug. 5): 3hrs:25, Schultz Creek to Sunset Trail to Elden Lookout Point (9,299'), down Brookbank Trail to Schultz Loop and back down the Schultz Creek Trail. Great scenery, fun run. I was caught in a wicked rain storm for the last two hours.

Weekly Totals: 12hrs:50. I imagine that I ran between 80 and 90 miles but that's only speculative. I'm more concerned with running free this month!

The Grand Canyon, as seen from the South Rim.

A wonderful view of (a portion of) the San Francisco Peaks, Flagstaff, AZ.

The incoming monsoon on Sunday (from the ridge up to Elden Mtn.), Flagstaff, AZ.

What is becoming a common practice: camping, Grand Canyon, AZ.


In Review: July training

The month of July brought mixed results. The positives included some higher mileage weeks and another racing experiences; the main negative was a DNF in the Voyageur 50. My monthly mileage (350 miles) and total running time (~45 hours) break down as follows:

07/02 - 07/08: 100 miles, ~13 hours
07/09 - 07/15: 111 miles, ~14 hours
07/16 - 07/22: 61 miles, 7hrs:45
07/23 - 07/29 (race week): 58 miles, 7hrs:40
07/30, 07/31: 20 miles, 2hrs:30

Monthly Totals: 350 miles, ~45 hours.

Now in Flagstaff and running exclusively trails for the month, I'm looking forward to a high mileage month with no races. In an effort to enjoy the trails, scenery, and final month before the fall semester begins, I plan to leave my GPS watch at home and run only for total time.



Race Report: Minnesota Voyageur 50

The unfortunate result is this: DNF. The explanation is a bit more complicated.

I went out in front and attacked the early, steep sections (1,000' of ascent, 750' of descent over 4 miles). I was both anxious and nervous before the race and the quick effort early, though not overly taxing, had my heart rate up. This depleted my oxygen supply early, which led to some heavy legs. I still felt well and I built a lead of about three minutes by mile ten. The infamous powerlines section was challenging but I felt good about my pace through the sharp climbs. I slowed some out of the powerlines and was caught at the mile 21 aid station by two young ultrarunners. I wasn't feeling strong at this point, and they were pushing hard, so I ran with them for a mile before settling into third, about 100 meters behind the young guns, just before the turnaround. Chris Gardner was just behind me, in fourth, and when the access road hit a T and I turned right, I knew something was wrong. I turned around and saw Chris standing at the end of the access road waving me back. We were back on course, but seemingly in the wrong spot. We decided to head left and make our way back to the turnaround point. As we progressed, we ran into the race director, who informed us that we had missed a left turn off the access road. We had the option of being DQ'ed or returning to the turn, which was close to a mile up the road. We decided to return to the trail and complete the final 1.5 miles back to the turnaround point. By then we had lost twenty minutes, run over a mile extra, and dropped from 3,4 -- just behind the leaders -- to 7,8. We both decided to call it a day.

An unfortunate result, indeed! Nevertheless, I was able to take away some important lessons from this race (mostly with regards to my race preparation, which I thought went well, and on course fueling, which was also successful). The good news is that I have another shot at the fifty mile distance in about six weeks. Off to Flagstaff for now!


07/16 - 07/22

Monday (July 16): off. A welcome break after 14 days on.

Tuesday (July 17): AM 11+ miles, 1hr:30, 8:10/mile, out-and-back on the Katy Trail, Rhineland, MO. Easy miles with Kevin.

Wednesday (July 18): AM 10+ miles, 1hr:17, 7:40/mile, 9 x double hill, Rhineland, MO. Found a nice double hill around the lake similar to the Lodi hill. Felt strong.

Thursday (July 19): AM 13+ miles, 1hr:32, 6:56/mile, Wydown Rd to Forest Park loop, St. Louis, MO. Some quicker miles on a warm morning.

Friday (July 20): off. My legs could use the rest and I was traveling to Madison, WI today.

Saturday (July 21): AM 15 miles, 2hrs:03, 8:14/mile, Devil's Lake, WI. The bluffs and rolling terrain felt much more manageable due, in large part, I'm sure, to a few months of hill repeats and a week out West. Good news!

Sunday (July 22): AM 11 miles, 1hr:18, 7:09/mile, SMR with Travis Pernsteiner, Madison, WI. I was feeling a little weak from running, a bit of farm work, and a lack of calories yesterday, but we managed to maintain a decent clip. PM Capitol Mile, 4minutes 39seconds, 10th place (?). I did some PR for Berkeley by running the Capitol Mile. I'm uncertain of my place and the exact time, but it's close enough. I'll update if I'm able to find my time and place online.

Weekly Totals: 61 miles,  ~7hrs:45. My body was a bit tired, especially early in the week, but I'm feeling more rested now. I should be feeling just right this Saturday--so far, race prep has gone well.

My job has its perks. 


07/09 - 07/15

Monday (July 9): AM 7 miles, 18 x 200m repeats at 37 - 39 seconds with 120m jog in between, Jerseyville Middle School track, Jerseyville, IL.

Tuesday (July 10): AM 13 miles, 1hr:36, 7:25/mile, out-and-back on Beauty Mound Rd, Dow, IL.

Wednesday (July 11): AM 10 miles, 1hr:16, 7:33/mile, 6 x double Lodi hill, Dow, IL. Around 6:45 per mile during the hill workout (~3 miles). PM 10 miles, 1hr:15, 7:30/mile, 6 x double Lodi hill, Dow, IL. Around 6:40/mile during the workout (~3 miles).

Thursday (July 12): AM 12 miles, 1hr:27, 7:17/mile, out-and-back on W County Rd, Dow, IL.

Friday (July 13): PM 10 miles, 1hr:09, 6:58/mile, out-and-back on W County Rd, Dow, IL. Hoped for a tempo run but was deterred by temperatures in the mid-90s.

Saturday (July 14): AM 21 miles, 2hrs:59, 8:36/mile, Lewis and Clark Trails, Weldon Springs, MO. First 8 mile loop in 74 with Kevin Melnuk, second 8 mile loop in 65 minutes, finished with a 5 mile loop in 40 minutes. PM 6 miles, :50, 8:20/mile, out-and-back on bike trails, Osage Beach, MO. Easy miles.

Sunday (July 15): PM 22 miles, 2hrs:37, 7:08/mile, out-and-back on the Katy Trail, Rhineland, MO. Warm temperatures: 93F at the start and 90F at the finish. I felt good about my fueling and hydration and, as a result, the pace stayed brisk.

Weekly Totals: 111 miles, ~14 hours. Less than two weeks until the Voyageur 50!

A view in the life of a boat driver

From a lookout point along the Lewis and Clark trails

 A pleasant evening along the Katy Trail

The right way to end a weekend: yachting! (with Kevin Melunk)


07/02 - 07/08

It was extremely hot all week, with most days climbing into the 100s. It made for some uncomfortable, and often tired, miles when combined with 6 - 7 hours working outdoors each day.

Monday (July 2): AM 7 miles, 16 x 200m in 38 - 39 secs with 120m jog between sets. PM 8 miles, :58, 6:59/mile.

Tuesday (July 3): AM 11.5 miles, 1hr:27, 7:35/mile.

Wednesday (July 4): PM 10 miles, 1hr: 11, 7:05/mile, 10 x double Lodi hill. Kept the hill repeats near 6:30/mile.

Thursday (July 5): AM 10 miles, 1hr:19, 7:55/mile

Friday (July 6): PM 6 miles, :42, 7:05/mile. HOT. 100F and 105F with the heat index. PM 10.5 miles, 10k in 37:35 (6:04/mile).

Saturday (July 7): AM 7 miles 1hr:10, 10:00/mile, trails in Pere Marquette, Grafton, IL. A bit of hiking on the ascents. I was hoping to run 15 or so miles but it was 100F at 9am when I reached the end of my first loop so I called it.

Sunday (July 8): AM 24 miles, 3hrs:30, 8:50/mile, double out-and-back on the Chubb Trail, West Tyson Park, MO. Weather improved! 73F at the start and 90F at the finish. Excellent terrain to prep for the Voyageur: steep, rocky climbs and descents and muddy, winding flats. PM 6 miles, :48, 8:00/mile. Easy miles near Lodi.

Weekly Totals: 100 miles, ~13 hours. The heat made for a good week of preping for the potentially warm temperatures later this month.

A view from the bluffs in Pere Marquette.

The sun rising and the fog lifting in the valley on the Chubb Trail.

On the Chubb Trail flats.


In review: June training

My mileage in June was much lower than expected but, on the plus side, I had several days of training at high altitude (during the last week of June), logged a number of fatigued miles (which helps get the body used to late race miles), and had a few runs in extreme heat (to prepare for the possibly high temperatures at the Voyageur at the end of July). Since I've been away from internet connection and traveling the past two weeks, I'll recap the month by first filling in my training log from the last two weeks:

Monday (June 18): AM 8+ miles, 24 x 200m repeats in 36 - 38 seconds with 120m easy jog in between.
Tuesday (June 19): AM 10 miles, 1hr:14, 7:25/mile, out-and-back along N County Rd.
Wednesday (June 20): AM 8 miles, 1hr:03, 7:54/mile, out-and-back along Beauty Mound Rd. PM 11.5 miles, 1hr:23, 7:15/mile, 10 x double Lodi hill. 
Thursday (June 21): AM 4 miles, :48, 12:00/mile, mostly hiking on trails in Pere Marquette. PM 6 miles, :43, 7:10/mile, out-and-back along Beauty Mound Rd.
Friday (June 22): AM 12 miles, 1hr:23, 6:57/mile, 3 x 2 mile repeats @ 12:05, 12:10, 12:12.
Saturday (June 23): off. Travel to Breckenridge, CO.
Sunday (June 24): off. Travel to Breckenridge, CO.

Weekly Totals: ~60 miles, 7hr:45.

Monday (June 25): AM 11.5 miles, 1hr:43, 9:05/mile, out-and-back on the Peaks Trail, Breckenridge, CO. The Peaks Trail runs between 9,100' and 10,250'.
Tuesday (June 26): AM 12.5 miles, 1hr:52, 9:05/mile, Peaks Trail from Frisco, CO to Breckenridge, CO and a ways up the Swingers Switchbacks on Peak 9. PM 8 miles, 1hr:05, 8:08/mile, out-and-back on the bike path along Highway 9.
Wednesday (June 27): AM 14 miles, 2hrs:18, 10:00/mile, up the Swingers Switchbacks to around 11,250'. 2,000'+ feet of climbing over four miles; a good deal of hiking on the steeper sections.
Thursday (June 28): AM 10 miles, 1hr:18, 7:50/mile, Marshall Mesa Trail, Boulder, CO.
Friday (June 29): AM 15 miles, 1hr:45, 7:03/mile, out-and-back on the Katy Trail, Columbia, MO. Hot! 88F at the start; 96F at the finish.
Saturday (June 30): off.
Sunday (July 1): off.

Weekly Totals: 71 miles, ~10 hours.

Monthly Totals: 307 miles, ~40 hours. Lower mileage, as mentioned, but some positives. Hopefully I can manage a few 100+ mile weeks in early to mid July.

A view from the Peaks Trail in Breckenridge, CO

The town of Breckenridge, as seen from 11,200'

The remnants of a forest fire in the Flatirons, Boulder, CO

Some off-roading to end the week


06/11 - 06/17

Monday (June 11): AM 7 miles, 12 x 200m repeats in 35 - 37 seconds with 120m easy jog in between. From the first few steps of the warm up until the end of the cool down I didn't feel great. My right calf started giving me trouble after the eighth repetition. The pain was pretty sharp and my gait changed slightly during the cool down because of it.

Tuesday (June 12): off. My lower right calf was swollen and sore today so I swam 23 minutes in the morning and 24 minutes in the evening totaling about 1.5 miles.

Wednesday (June 13): PM 11 miles, 1hr:23, 7:33/mile, out-and-back along Beaty Rd. Was almost killed by a few farm dogs along the way but I managed to survive. My calf was still acting up a bit, especially towards the end of the run, but it is feeling a bit better. I also swam 28 minutes in the morning.

Thursday (June 14): PM 12 miles, 1hr: 27, 7:11/mile, out-and-back along Wydown Rd. to Forest Park. I ran around 5pm and it was extremely warm--near 90 degrees. I'll try to run during warmer hours a few times a week over the next month and a half in order to prepare for what could be a very warm day on July 28th. My calf is feeling better still. Also swam 31 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the afternoon.

Friday (June 15): PM 9 miles, 6 x double Lodi Rd hill, 1hr:05, 7:10/mile. Finally, the injury seems to have subsided! And I had a great workout to boot. The Lodi hills that I ran are back-to-back inclines with about a 75 flat stretch in between; one hill is about 200m while the other is around 125m--the latter being the steeper of the two. I was able to maintain a six and a half minute mile during the workout. Once again, I went for a swim, going 33 minutes in the early afternoon.

Saturday (June 16): AM 21 miles, 3hrs:10, 9:00/mile, Lewis and Clark trails. I first ran the five mile loop with my friend, and temporary employer, Kevin Melnuk, in about 43 minutes. I then bumped into a group of Big River Running Company runners and ran one eight mile loop with three of them in 72 minutes followed by a second eight mile loop with Mike Orrico in around 75 minutes. The pace was mostly easy and I felt strong on the climbs. I was mostly focused on time on my feet for this one.

Sunday (June 17): AM 13 miles, twelve miles in 1hr:24, 7:00/mile, out-and-back along Wydown Rd. to Forest Park. I ran a mile or so with my dad, who recently began running again, which was a nice way to spend Father's Day morning. I then ran twelve as the temperatures crept into the upper-80s. Another warm run. Oh, and no calf problems!

Weekly Totals: 73 miles, 9hrs:30. I had to keep my mileage down this week because of the calf injury but positives remain: the injury subsided by the end of the week and I was able to improve my strength with some miles in the water and lots of core work.


06/04 - 06/10

I'm working in Illinois, just outside of Alton, for the next six weeks. The upshot is that I'll have a bunch of empty country roads to explore; the bad news is that I'll have less access to trails. Some of my runs, generally on the weekends, will be on trails West of St. Louis. In any case, I look forward to a change of scenary after training in Madison for almost a year straight.

Monday (June 4): AM 10.5 miles, 1hr:14, 7:03/mile, Wydown Road to Forest Park. I'm feeling really tired from the trip last week but was able to run some fairly brisk miles early.

Tuesday (June 5): AM 11 miles, 2 x 3 mile in 18:04, 17:31. PM 9 miles, 1hr:06, 7:22/mile, out-and-back along Mounty Beach Rd. I was still feeling tired this morning (I need more sleep!) and so the first three mile segment was slow. The second segment felt much better and I ended the workout after two repeats.

Wednesday (June 6): AM 10 miles, 1hr:15, 7:32/mile, out-and-back along Country Rd. Once again I was feeling burnt out but I managed to get the miles in (albeit, slow miles).

Thursday (June 7): PM 8.5 miles, 1hr:02, 7:20/mile, 10 x 200m hill. The workout was going really well until a felt a sharp pain in my lower right leg after the seventh repeat. I first thought that it was an achilles issue (not again!), only to discover that it was a lower calf strain. This was preferable news, I suppose, but certainly not good news. I'll have to keep an eye out to make sure that this doesn't turn into a larger problem.

Friday (June 8): PM 11 miles, 1hr:21, 7:23/mile, out-and-back along Country Rd. I waited until the afternoon to run in order to let my calf rest a bit more; it didn't feel too bad during the run.

Saturday (June 9): AM 13.3 miles, 1hr:40, 7:34/mile, Otterville Rd. to Pere Marquette. I didn't get out the door until 10 am and it made for a very warm run. Lots of rolling hills and tons of exposure to the sunshine kept this one taxing.

Sunday (June 10): AM 15 miles, 2hrs:10, 8:40/mile, out-and-back on the Chubb Trail. I was feeling quite fatigued throughout this run so I mostly took it easy. I felt good at a few points and tried to work up some of the steeper inclines. Not a bad run.

Weekly Totals: 88+ miles, ~11 hours. This was a nice transition week between a low mileage week and the final month of heavy training. The right calf strain held me back a bit, but I'm hopeful that it will heal itself over the next week and I'll be back to one hundred percent.


In review: May training, Races to date

May was an excellent month for training and racing. The training totals for May include: 407 miles, 49hrs:35. This month included an abundance of workouts, several races, and at least one 20+ mile every week. In the final days of May, and the first days of June, I ran a minimal number of miles. I was visiting with friends in Washington, DC and only managed about 40 miles. I had built this easy week into my training schedule to rest a bit after running five races early in the year (including three races in four weeks at the end of April / beginning of May). I intend to have another 400+ mile month in June starting with ~90 miles this week. If all goes well, I then hope to run 100 - 115 for five weeks in a row, which will take me into the middle of July. I will then have two weeks to make final preparations for the Voyageur 50.

My race times to date include:

Cowtown Marathon: 02:51:30 (6:33/mile)
Mad City 50k: 03:21:49 (6:29/mile)
Crazylegs Classic 8k: 27:35 (5:31/mile)
Door County Half Marathon: 01:19:30 (6:05/mile)
Syttende Mai 20 Mile Run: 02:08:49 (6:27/mile)

I've had some decent times on the pavement at a variety of distances. I'll continue the speed / strength training as I shift gears to the trails for the rest of the year. I'm looking forward to racing through the woods!


05/21 - 05/27

Monday (May 21): off

Tuesday (May 22): AM 12+, altered SMR loop, 3 x 3 mile repeats @ 17:25, 17:50, 17:31. Splits were 5:52, 5:50, 5:43 -- mile off (7:20) -- 6:06, 5:54, 5:50 -- mile off (7:35) -- 5:51, 5:55, 5:45. Things went smoothly: (mostly) easy breathing, (mostly) loose legs, and quick miles. It felt good! PM 10 miles, 1hr:08, 6:51/mile, out-and-back along Monona Bay to the Arb. Some easy miles to keep the legs loose and increase mileage. The pace was brisker than expected, but unsurprisingly so, as the evening was pleasant and I was feeling good.

Wednesday (May 23): AM 10 miles, hill repeats in Olin Park and Turville Point, 1hr:15, 7:30/mile. The hill workout amounted to about 2.5 mills of hard uphill / downhill running. 10 x Olin Park sled hill (backside) and 10 x Turville Point hill. Solid workout.

Thursday (May 24): AM 10 miles, UW track, 5 x 800m @ 2:37, 2:41, 2:40, 2:40, 2:38. Rest: 200m jog after repeats 1, 2, 4; 400m jog after repeat 3. I was planning on six repeats but my legs were getting a bit tight and I don't want to be crazy sore for this weekend so I stopped after five. Lots of wind this morning, which made the effort a bit more taxing, but overall it went well.

Friday (May 25): AM 10 miles, 1hr:17, 7:45/mile, loops around the Arb. I felt a little sluggish the first few miles. I had a hard time getting into a rhythm but was feeling ok by the end of the run.  PM 10 miles, 1hr:02, 6:13/mile, out-and-back on Cap City Trail. What a run. This was very unexpected. I was planning to run around 6:35 per mile but was feeling great after the first mile (6:40) so I kept a strong pace and never tired too much. The latter miles were around 6:00/mile and I was really happy with the fact that my breathing was easy and my legs felt good.

Saturday (May 26): AM 22 miles, 2hrs:37, 7:10/mile, out-and-back from Riley on the Military Ridge Trail. Hank and I tried to run at 6am but, after seeing lightening within striking distance (literally), we called it off after a half mile. I went back out around 10am and had an excellent go. My gait felt smooth, my legs weren't terribly tired, and I clicked off the miles seemingly effortlessly on a humid morning / early afternoon. PM 4 miles, :30, 7:30/mile, out-and-back down State Street to the Lakefront Trail with Holden. Holden arrived and we jogged a few easy miles before the half marathon tomorrow.

Sunday (May 27): AM 12 miles, Madison Half-Marathon course, 2 mile warm-up, 10 miles in 67 minutes, 6:45/mile. The Madison Marathon was canceled due to heat related worries. So Holden and I decided to run the half marathon instead. After two easy miles we started the race at the capitol. It was evident after a few miles that Holden was going to have a tough day. We ran six or seven miles at around 6:30/mile pace and then slowed down for a few miles before stepping off the course around mile 9. I jogged another mile plus before grabbing a beer at the finish line. It was a fun morning!

Weekly Totals: 100 miles, ~11hrs:45. This was the best week of training that I've had this year and perhaps the best that I've ever had. I hope to have many more weeks of this kind in the next two months. Now that the heavy racing is past, I have one thing on my mind: the Voyageur 50.

No photos this week, as my phone was water damaged in a canoe turnover on Sunday...not pleased!