Post Lean Horse

Okay, since the race, I have been taking some time off of running. I know, it is hard to do.

I am pretty sure I have an addictive personality trait. I'm glad this is being used for running and not something else.

However, it is a struggle for me not to run. I have been having a little problem with my shin over the past 6 weeks and I need to let it heal. I decided I would get through Lean Horse and then take some time to let it mend.

It is a bit sore today, but I feel like I could run an easy five miles. GRRR!!!

Anyway, I have been working out, just not running. I did take Sunday and Monday off after the race. But since then:

Tuesday: Swim 35 minutes
Wednesday: Upper body lifting/abs
Thursday: Swim 40 minutes

My arms are sore!!! Maybe I should give my arms a day off and run????


lean horse update

Hot day out there. I ran a 8:42:30. Good enough for first male, 1st age group, and 2nd overall. Congrats to the woman who showed the men up.

Full race report soon.


Eating before Lean Horse

I'm sitting in the local Best Western waiting for Lean Horse to begin. It has been an intertesting trip and I'll share more later.

One thing I can share is what I ate today in prep for the 50 mile adventure.

WARNING - lots of food

2 pieces of PB toast
Cup of instant oatmeal
Bowl of raisin bran cereal


Grilled Chicken Sandwich
Cottege cheese
1 slice of strawberry rhubarb pie

Clif Bar (brownie)

Speghetti with meat sause

Lots and lots of water, lemonade, and 1 diet coke

I'll be burning about 8000 calories tomorrow. I'm just filling up the tank!

I'll check in tomorrow with race results.


- I'm likely out on the road right now heading off to Lean Horse. Since I won't be running today, I've posted an entry from our group's running site about my running shoes. This is from March of 09....enjoy!

Top Stressful Events for a Runner

As most of us have read or heard before, there are many stressful events a person can come upon in their lifetime. There are many top stressful events people mention, and in no particular order, some of the events repeated in different articles are death in the family, marriage/divorce, new family members, loss of job, and variations of each. No doubt even many reading this can attest to these as top life stressful events. For each of us, running is possibly part of the solution or our way of coping with life’s large or even not so large stressful events.

I have found that life likes to play a little joke on each of us. Just because I am a runner who uses running as a way to help cope with life’s stressful event, running itself triggers some additional stressful situations. I would consider these a “second tier” of stressful events. Here are some that I have come up with, in no particular order:
• Determining a race to run
• Changing Shoes
• Weather related issues on important running days
• Health as it relates to running

I could easily go into depth regarding any one of these items. Lately though, changing shoes has been on my mind. For many, including even some runners, changing shoes is not a big deal. Then, for some runners like me, changing shoes is a HUGE deal.

When I first started to try and lose some weight back in 2002, I remember slipping on my old indoor soccer shoes. I started with a run/ walk program and eventually worked my way up to two miles. Once I started to run a bit more, I bought whatever cross training shoes that seemed to generally work. After a couple of months, I would head over to Kohl’s and search out the cheapest and nicest looking shoe to fit my need. Then I started to hit about 5 miles at a time and going more than 20 miles a week. Although I had already made a commitment to running, it was time I stopped playing the field of shoes a settle into a long term relationship with my sole’s mate.

The new friends I made through running suggested I go to Fitness Sports. After spending what seemed like the entire afternoon of trying on shoes, I slipped on a white and royal blue Saucony Grid Omni 3 shoes that provided a sliver of heaven for my feet. The heel cushioning was soft, the weight of the shoe was light, and the fore foot toe box fit my feet like soft leather gloves.

Some romantics let you know they found their true love once their eyes met their future partner for life. I did not experience this with my wife and thought that I never would (for the record, I dated my wife’s roommate, and pulled off the roommate switch, another story for another time). However, once I laced up that Saucony Omni shoe, I just knew I found that shoe; or maybe THE shoe for me.

I spent much time over the next few years with my beloved Saucony shoes. Like any relationship, it evolved over time. For me, I was running faster, longer, and more often. She went through some color changes and fabric updates (Omni 4 and 5). The changes each of us were going through seemed to compliant the other. We began to think nothing of setting new PRs as each race we seemed to just get stronger. The ultimate goal was beginning to become clear and it was time to shoot for a Boston Marathon qualifying time.

We kept up our intensity of the training and soon began to realize our goal could be attained. After many hours of emotional high and lows through training in cold, hot and damp weather, we decided to make a run for our goal at Grandma’s in 2006. I remember it well, as the black flag of death was placed out that day due to intense heat in the early summer run. However, without doubt, I knew that I and my Saucony Omni could do it. Through the heat and many water stops, I remember crossing that finish line while fist pumping as the goal became a reality. I remember after the race, although surrounded by many volunteers, I sat on the ground to slip off the “more than good friend” that led me to my goal. We did it.

After that run, we had a great summer. With the pressure of getting a Boston Qualifying time off our shoulders, we ran just for the love of running. Later that year, we smashed our Boston qualifying time by 4 minutes; setting my ultimate marathon PR of 3:06.

Then, we both seemed to change, this time, we didn’t change together. My miles began to increase, and the comfort she once provided wasn’t there any more. She changed her colors, and went to a new “Pro” grid instead of the “regular” grid. She must have thought this to be an improvement; however, to me it only made matters worse. My shins began to feel the effect. I tried to hang on to what we had built over the years by ignoring the new changes and focusing on the old items that once made us click. However, it just was not met to last.

After a good six years, I needed to move on. Since last fall, I started to try out some various shoes. Nike, New Balance, even a pair of Asics as a rebound shoe; but nothing seemed to fit as well as those Saucony shoes. I even came across a new pair of the old shoes in my closet. I occasionally wear them, but I know there is no future for me and this shoe.

Last week, I went to the Running Room and slid on a pair of Addis SuperNovas. Uh-oh, what is this I feel? A sliver of heaven for my feet.


8/19 - Easy hills 6.2 miles

Today's run was a rolling hill route known as Spook. Part of the route is on a obscure gravel road that leads into the back of Water Works Park. The road is in town, but is one of only a few gravel roads left. I choose the route for this purpose, I'm running a good portion of the 50 mile run on gravel this weekend and wanted to get as much time on gravel as I could.

My mind began to wonder about "Spook"....

There is a particular 1/2 mile stretch where the route gets its name. Legend has it a popular Des Moines chef was murdered on the side of the gravel road sometime around the middle of the last century by the Mafia. Runners have since claimed strange happenings along the stretch of the road. For example, one of the runners was out on a hot 80 degree day but when he reached this stretch, it was so cold he could see his breath!! Another claims instead of taking the normal 4-5 minutes to this stretch, he seemed to lost a half of time.

Anyway, the story and runners' stories went through my head during the run today. It was a nice break from thinking about the impending 50 mile run.

What?? A 50 mile run?? Maybe, I need to think about that a bit......


8/18 Speed Work??

Yes, I have big race coming up. Yes, I am tapering. So what to do on a Tuesday before the big race??? How about a little bit of speedwork!!

I know the philosophy is to keep the intensity of the runs going into the race while scaling back on the overall number of miles being ran. In short, go run hard, but not long.

But this close to the race? I buy into the run hard, not long philosophy, but only so close to a race. Generally a week before a race (marathon or ultra), I stay off my feet as much as possible. Ask my beloved wife, who knows the grass rarely gets mowed a week prior to a race, there is no browsing at stores or window shopping at a mall; I play baseball with the kids from my chaise lounger, and there is a noticeable increase in my Wii time.

So today's run goes against what I've generally done in the past about tapering the week before a race.

The workout was 8 x 2 minute at threshold pace (6:45) with 1 minute recovery. Today, these went easy, in fact, these were really easy. I ended up going quite a bit faster - 6:20's for the first few and really had to watch my pace to slow down for those two minutes. For my cool down, I ran 1.5 miles at a 7:45 pace, which was feeling like the effort of a 8:45 pace. Overall, this was 6 mile run with 3 miles at a fast pace.

This is very good. A great mental boost with a few days until the big race. Like I said, this goes against what I normally do for an ultra race, but than again, I don't normally run a 50 mile race.


8/16 - Easy run and 8/17 Off

Not much going on in the actual running area right now. I only have a couple short runs left before the big race.

Sunday was an easy 40 minutes. My wife had wedding shower/bachelorette party on Saturday night. My very responsible wife drove the restaurant but than carpooled with others, I'm sure to save on gas and NOT for any other reason (yeah, right?). Since I run all over, I mentioned to to her no need for both of us to go pick up the car, I'll just run to it. Then off I went, with my wallet and key. Hmmm....maybe I do have a running problem.

The Heed subtle Mandarin orange was the winner of the taste test. I bought a canister at Scheel's this weekend and am now getting prepared for the race.

I am a huge nerd, I put together a spreadsheet with detailed drop bag information, what I need to do at each aid station, what and when I need to eat, when I need to change clothes, etc. For example, in case anyone was wondering, I plan to change by shirt and socks at mile 33. I plan to also take an electrolyte supplement, mix my Heed, refill my water bottle, eat real food, and reapply sunscreen.

Really - is it race time yet????


90 minutes easy run

Today's run was an easy 90 minutes, it was an easy 10 miles for me as the taper is in full effect for Lean Horse. The Saturday morning group was in full force today including Wes, but unfortunately not Bill. My running buddy's wife put together a breakfast for the group to wish John well on his 100 miles. The breakfast buffet was awesome - a post run dream with chocolate mile, fruit, bagels, egg casserole, and much more!

If you asked me how I decided I was running or racing 50 miles, I don't know that I actually ever decided. I know at some point I had to register, but even then, not sure I had much of a decision.

The discussion originally came up when John was thinking about running a 100 mile race. From what I remember many months ago, the discussion went something like this:

John - "I'm thinking about running a 100 mile race in the fall. There is one in August that might work out well. The only problem is it is a long ways away. I can't go by myself and drive back that far just after running a 100 miles. I think I may need a driver."

Me - "Huh, do they have anything shorter than a 100 mile race, if there is, I could maybe help drive back."

John - "yes, there is a 50 miler, that would work out well for both of us."

So there you have it - that is how I am running 50 miles. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited about the adventure, I am up for the challenge, and there is nothing like running a full day. I am passionate about running, and am looking forward to it. But if John didn't need a driver, I'm not sure if I would be doing this crazy thing!!

One week to go!


Help! Lean Horse 1 week away (40 Minute Easy run)

The 40 minute easy run was just that. 5 miles without the Garmin so I could just run without looking at my pace all the time. It was hot, but the run was relaxing.

1 week and a day to until Lean Horse!

Most of my thoughts during the run today were about planning for this 50 mile race next weekend. I would like to think I could just show up and run 50 miles, but unfortunately, there is lots of planning to do. I have three columns across a spreadsheet regarding mile splits. The forth set of times is a bit different, as it show a pace between aid stations, but than adds 2 minutes for each aid station for walking and refueling. I then have sections titled: Packing List, Aid station list, Drop Bag 1 list, Drop Bag 2 list, and shopping list......The planning for this race has been just about as hard as the training!! I know you can't read the picture below, but if you have any suggestions about anything to inlcude, please let me know!

By the way, the drawing in the lower left hand corner is a duffel bag. The duffel bag has three various sizes of Ziploc bags inside of it. The three bags are: a small bag of must grabs at each aid station (Clif shot blocks, pre-measured electrolyte mix, sunscreen wipes, etc.); the second bag is a change of clothing (Socks, Shoes, shirt, etc.); the third bag is a what if bag (band aids, toothbrush, athletic tape, etc.) Yes - a toothbrush - if I have to puke, I'd like to be able to brush my teeth - especially since I'm wearing braces right now!

I noticed I forgot to list my (wife's) Ipod and have since added it to the list. If anyone has any suggestions regarding some good workout songs, let me know. 50 miles is a long ways, and an eclectic mix of music may do some good. I can listen to anything from country to hard rock to classical.


8/13 Easy run - 6 miles - tough hills

Today was scheduled to be an easy run on tough hills. I didn't want to go too long as the schedule only called for 50 minutes of running. I went on the route that is affectionately known as "Pain".

It is about as hilly as you can get in Des Moines. The winding hilly run through the South of Grand neighborhood is always challenging.

Today's running route reminded me of a couple of guys who showed me the route about 7 years ago, and whose company I miss as I haven't run with either of them in a long time. These two guys played a significant role in my life - they introduced me to the "long run".

I remember when I first started running to lose weight. One of my co-workers noticed I had lost a bunch of weight, knew I was running over lunch, and one day asked if I wanted to tag along for an easy 5 miles.

He was tapering for an Iron Man. Remember when your mom or dad told you to not "run with the wrong crowd?" I think my mom had something else in mind, but I started my long distance training with a small group of guys who thought the half iron man distance was barely worth doing.

Next week, I'm heading off to attempt my first 50 mile run. I have a problem, I run way to much, and probably should blame these two guys.

Thanks guys!

FYI.... Yesterday, I tried the Cran-Raz Clif drink. Too sweet, it has been tossed. Today, I mixed half a packet of HEED sublte Mandarin Orange with 20 oz of water. This half mix is about perfect. It is now a strong contender to win out and be used at Lean Horse.


8/12 Progression Run

After yesterday's hard interval work, today's scheduled run was a 20/20/20 progression run. This is 20 minutes easy, 20 minutes at marathon race pace (7:15) and the last 20 minutes at Threshold pace (6:45). Tough, especially after yesterday's run and today's temps felt like the low 90's during the run.

After the usual morning emails between the downtown running folks, Carla and Matt wanted to do at least part of the run with me.

We all started together at the 8:30 pace and decided to run to the State Fair grounds - the day before the state fair begins, it always provides some interesting sight seeing. Each year I play a little game - this year I counted 8 mullets along with 12 guys who cut the arms off of their newer cotton T-shirts in the 8 minutes I was running through the state fair grounds.

Matt and Carla were actually running a bit fast at the beginning for me. Matt wanted to keep the steady pace, and Carla wanted to get in a few miles at a faster tempo - 7:15 to 7:30. After the first 20 minutes, Carla and I were off - Carla did a great job and we hit the first mile right at 7:15 pace. After that she maintained her tempo pace between 7:15 and 7:30 and I continued on around a 7:13 pace. After the 20 minutes, I was wiped - it was hot and I thought - really, will the next 20 minutes really matter in my training???? (um...I think asked myself a similar question yesterday???)

It does. I'm currently reading Lou Holtz's autobiography Wins, Losses, and Lessons. There are many parts of the book I really like, and as I'm reading the book, now have a better understanding just how wise Coach Holtz is. In it, he reiterates to his coaching staff and players to expect nothing less than doing your best all the time. There is never a moment where anything short of doing your best is good enough. I know, it sounds cliche, it is cliche, but sometimes I need to hear things about 100 times before it sticks.....

I'm not going to change the world by running for 20 minutes at a 6:45 pace. But in the small sense, I think by not doing this, I would not be doing my best. There is no reason to not run hard as my running schedule showed.

I ran hard. My pace ended up being a 6:48 pace for the 20 minutes - just short of the 6:45. I missed it by 3 seconds. As in the book, Lou reminds his players that as long as you did your best and gave it your best, you have nothing to be ashamed of and everything to proud of.

Okay, so at the end of the run, I finished up and started to walk for the cool down. Carla came in a couple minutes behind me and did the same thing. We were walking back toward our meeting place downtown, and then Matt zips by us still running and not stopping - still at his 8:15 to 8:30 pace.

I'm not saying Matt represents the tortoise and I'm the hare, but Matt's nice and steady pace made him look quite a bit better than me as I was still gasping for air. Aw well, I knew I gave it my best. Never give up. Do your best - and most importantly - do not become a statistic in the mullet or armless t-shirt counting game.


8/11 Run - Interval work and thoughts

Today's run was hard. The scheduled workout was 5 X 10 minutes at a 6:45 pace; 3 minutes easy in between sets. In addition to the tough workout, it was 84 degrees; but with the humidity, felt like 92.

Let's be honest, with 10 days to Lean horse; this was the last significant workout. Although I know this workout would probably not affect my performance at Lean Horse, I realized I needed to nail this workout if just for mental reassurance. As I was running this, I knew I could do it, but it was hard. Then I thought, how easy is running 50 miles? I can surely put up with 50 minutes of running today because in a couple weeks, I'll be needing to put up with a quite a few hard hours of running.

I checked my Garmin for my splits. I ended up running about a 1 1/2 miles each interval, with paces coming in at 6:43; 6:42; 6:44; 6:45; 6:44. I hit it. After my last split, I gave myself an imaginary pat on the back and thought "a job well done - a great confidence booster!"

On a side note; I was out running for about an hour and twenty minutes today. People ask me, "What do you think about on your runs for so long?"

I think many different things. Today, I gave some thought to coaching my two sons' soccer teams, I thought about some of the stuff I needed to get done at work, that my garage needs to be cleaned out, and my tools need to get organized in my basement.

However, I'll admit, I'm a "simple minded" guy. I usually think about things as I'm in the moment. For example, when I'm at work, I think about work stuff. When I'm coaching my sons' soccer teams, I think about soccer; when I'm home, I think about the stuff that needs to get done around the house. SO, while I run, the majority of my thoughts are about, you guessed it, running...

Today's time was spent thinking about hitting those pace marks, if I was running too fast, too hard, or too slow. I thought about how good it felt to go fast, and how easy an 8:25 pace felt compared to the 6:45 pace. I thought about keeping hydrated and staying in the shade as much as I could to keep cool.

Sorry - nothing too dramatic here - like I said, a simple guy with a simple mind!

FYI...I tried the Clif Crisp Apple with caffeine electrolyte replacement drink mix today. Let's say is has been "tossed". The HEED subtle strawberry flavor so far is still the pick.


8/10 Run

Easy 5.5 miles today as the taper begins for Lean Horse. No issues with the run, all good.

My thoughts have been on Lean Horse though. I've bought the sample sizes of the different electrolyte replacement powder mixes: 4 from Clif and 4 from HEED.

Some people may think I should have had this figured out weeks ago. Yep, they are right. However, I have determined that sweet drinks, like Gatorade and G2, seems to cause me some stomach issues. This only took me a few years to figure out and became apparent over the last couple of weeks. Therefore, I know need to try something different during crunch time to Lean Horse.

I drank some of the HEED Strawberry today. It was actually pretty good. Not too sweet at all. For Lean Horse, I plan to premix which ever electrolyte replacement flavor wins in my own reality elimination show of "Drink or Toss: Which electrolyte supplement can go the distance?" I'll place the winning flavor into small plastic baggies and carry a couple of them at a time an have some in my drop bag.

I'll post the winner in a few days.

8/9 Easy Trail Running

There is nothing like a nice trail run. In the urban city, (Des Moines is urban, right?) the pounding on the concrete and asphalt streets, sidewalks, and bike paths takes its toll on this regular guy runner with a running problem. It feels great to get out to the wooded areas for some trail runs along the lake.

John and I ran an easy hour run on the trail. Of course, the topic of Lean Horse dominated the conversation. We discussed, once again, the amount of time it would take me to run a 50 mile race - calculating pace while running is not an easy thing to do. We discussed logistics of drop bags, hydrating, eating, and ipod usage. In the two weeks prior to the race, John also reminded me that rest is a good thing, that if you got faster from running, your speed would actually increase on your long run.

We discussed that we need to quite our full time jobs and somehow see if we could make running our full time jobs. We thought we could do clinical trials regarding hydrating, but than John brought up the fact that it only take one clinical trial "fail" to have serious consequences, like not breathing anymore.

As we were running and talking, I was thinking to myself, this is why I run. I run to get outside, enjoy the surroundings, and enjoy the company. There is nothing like a trail run.


8/7 Long Run in the rain

Earlier this week, I had a discussion with my running buddy John about doing the weekend long run together on Friday instead of Saturday. We decided to run, along with others from our running group. We had a nice size group for the day, a total of 9 runners, with a few people just running their normal daily run to others running 20 miles.

I'm training for the 50 mile race at Lean Horse, 20 miles to me should be easy. John is training for the 100 mile race at Lean Horse, 20 miles to him is barely worth getting out of bed.

Yesterday, I emailed John and let him know it was suppose to rain and it could get pretty nasty with some storms.

His reply was simply - "It's only 3 hours, how wet can we get?"

Okay - there are a couple of things wrong with this question. The first part of the statement/question is "only 3 hours". Ummm...ONLY 3 HOURS of running...seriously, we have a problem and probably should seek help.

The second part of the question/statement is "how wet can we get?" Yeah, we got wet. It was the kind of wet you get to your core. The rain was a nice novelty when we started....it cooled us off, kept us smelling better (vs. stinky sweat), etc. By the time we were done, my shoes had that "squish, squash" sound to it, the sound that only occurs when you carry 5 extra pounds of water weight in your shoe.

At one point, I turned to John and asked him a question. He turned back to me and said "What? I can't hear you because your shoes are too loud!"

To which my reply was "Huh, how wet can we get??"

Two weeks until Lean Horse!


8/6 Run and other thoughts

Okay - today was an easy 5+ miles on the Rocket Run. Basically an out an back with a slight loop at the end that goes by an old slide that is in the shape of, you guessed it, a rocket. 5.25 miles at 8:10 pace.

Nothing special today about the run, but on the way to work, something odd happened. Actually, when I left the house this morning, I didn't even think I was running today - instead a cross training day with a planned swim. However, the thought had crossed my mind, maybe I should run? Okay, I'll follow my instincts, take the day to swim.

However, you know how some people people say things happen in 3s? Well, today, it happened to me on the way to work:
Car #1. I was behind a car, there was a sticker in the window - it was of a stick runner with the runner surrounded by the words "Never Quit"
Car #2. After Car #1 turned off my route, car #2 was in front of me. The vanity license plate stated "RUNKATH". Not sure what this meant, but I did know what the first three letters did.
Car#3 - just prior to pulling into my parking lot, another car had one of those little round oval stickers in the window. The oval simply stated "26.2".

By the time I stepped out of my car, I decided I better just run over lunch. The question is, did I want to change my mind so I just noticed these things, was it really fate or some other higher power that put those items in place for me to see, OR am I just that passionate/delusional about running that I notice everything running?


8/5 Run

I got out today with Carla. She is fast. Not just kind of fast, but the fast that gets me into trouble.

Our usual running group was emailing about weekly group runs and Carla mentioned she was getting out today over lunch. I let her know I was getting out as well and could use the company, but that my plan was to run an "easy" 70 minutes today. My easy pace is about a 8:30 miles. Carla replied back with "your easy is my tempo run!" With that, I decided to run with Carla over lunch.

We decided to run park loop in reverse. The route would take us up an incline of about 2 miles before a 1.5 mile descent. Not a hard route, but just enough inclines to give a solid workout. We began to chat and, 8 miles later at an 7:50 pace, I discovered my easy run was no longer easy.

I'm trying to strictly follow my running plan as Lean Horse gets closer. With a 50 mile race just ahead, it is important to follow the planned runs.

Oh well - it felt good to go that pace - isn't that what running is about?

Carla told me a funny story over the run. Quick background: Carla is beginning to run over lunch more and more and is introducing herself to some the usual downtown noon runners. Matt (another usual downtown runner and my cousin) spotted a couple of women that are fast and told Carla to introduce herself to see if she could run with them occasionally.

To paraphrase the story, it went something like this:

Carla: Hi, I'm Carla - I'm beginning to run more over lunch and notice that you get out quite a bit. Are you training for a marathon?

Lady: Honey, I'm always training for a marathon.

Carla: Oh, okay....well I'm training for one and was just curious about your training. Do you have any goals for an upcoming race?

Lady: At my age, honey, I don't run for time anymore.....are you training for your first marathon?

Carla (a little uncomfortable now, decided to lay out her credentials to show the lady that she is a dedicated runner) Oh no, I've done a few. I ran Des Moines last year to qualify for Boston, and ran Boston this spring. Not as fast as I would have liked, but a still a pretty good time.

Lady:I'm hoping to get to Boston in 2010. It will be my 5th Boston marathon. I've completed 73 marathons and 6 ultras.

Moral of the story - be careful who Matt tells you to introduce yourself too.


8/4 Run - Temp

It's hot out there. Normally this time of year in the midwest, I have no problems with running in 90 degree weather. This year, has been different though. With the cooler temps, my body is not even close to being use to the hot weather runs.

I was scheduled to do 40 minute tempo run with 10 minute warm-up and 10 minute cool down. I went out to follow the plan. At 10 minutes, I picked up my pace and my first mile was right at a 6:45 as planned. Second mile - 6:44, third mile 6:45, fourth mile - 6:44, fifth mile 6:50. Whew - that was hard! Water break! Now time for the cool down. What?? No way do I have another mile left???? Forget it, too $#%^* hot!

Okay, it is important to listen to your body right? My body was telling me to forget it. This time, I acutally did. A 16 minute cool down is no problem. I'll take the run in this heat. What is tomorrow's forcast???