Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Man, I really am a first class slacker, when it comes to blogging at least. Really, I've been running quite a bit, just not writing about it. Over the last three weeks, I've logged 71, 73 and 77 miles and felt mostly great doing it (except for a crappy mid-week 13 miler in that third week). Best of all, I've started throwing in some tempo work or a track workout once a week and I think it's woken my legs up from their ultra-training slumber. Since I started doing these workouts, my paces in other "easy" runs has quickened. Also, my last three long runs (16, 18, and 20 miles) have felt awesome. There's nothing quite like reaching the end of a 20 mile run and feeling as fresh as a daisy (well, relatively speaking).

As for racing, I haven't done any since the trail series ended and don't really plan on any serious racing for quite some time. I am running the Turkey Trot 5K in Rapid City on Thanksgiving but it'll be more of a fun run than anything else. I'll be pushing the kids in the double stroller so my wife can run solo (aren't I nice....plus it gives me an excuse to go slower). Really, the main reason I'm running it is to get my name in the hat for the post-race pie raffle.

My biggest non-running obsession right now is college football. More specifically, Montana Grizzly football. The Griz finished their regular season last weekend by beating the hated Montana St. Bobcats 33-19. That win capped off an 11-0 regular season for the Griz and gave them their 12th straight Big Sky conference title and 17th straight playoff appearance. They also earned the top seed in the FCS (that's Division 1 Football Championship Subdivision, as opposed to the more familiar Bowl Subdivision) playoffs. In the first round they face the South Dakota St. Jackrabbits. By earning the #1 seed, the Griz have homefield advantage all the way up to the championship in Chattanooga, should they make it that far again (last year they lost the championship to Richmond). I'll be glued to my computer/TV the whole way. GO GRIZ!!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wrapping up the trail series

Wow, I've been slacking....here it is Friday and I still haven't updated this thing. I actually have something somewhat interesting to talk about too. Last Saturday was the unofficial and unsanctioned South Dakota Trail Running Championship on the Flume Trail outside of Rockerville. This was the final race in the 2009 Black Hills Trail Series. Doing some simple math (the kind I'm best at), I realized that in order to finish in 1st place in the men's open (39 and under) division, all I needed to do was earn 3 points (8th place). And that was only if the guy in 2nd place, who hadn't shown up for the previous two races, showed up at this race and won, earning 10 points. Well, as it turns out, he didn't show up, which means that I didn't really need to be there either, but I didn't drive all the way to Rockerville just for shits and giggles, plus the race was free, so I signed up for the 16K (there was also a 10K) and hit the trails.

A 16K works out to 9.6 miles in American. But before we started the race director told us that the 10K course was actually a little short and the 16K course was actually a little long, which I guess means that they balance each other out. In any case, the 16K course was kind of like a figure 8 with a short out and back section between the two loops. We took off in a mass and as soon as we hit the trail, I realized that maybe I had probably lined up a little further back than I should have, but in reality maybe it was a good thing because it forced me to run a little more under control for the first half mile or so until the trail widened out and I could start passing some people. Consequently, the front runners in the 16K got out ahead of me quickly and I had no idea how many of them there were, not to mention that I had no idea who was running 10K and who was running 16K. So, I just cruised along on some fast section of trail for the first couple miles before we hit a hill. The hill didn't even seem all that bad at first, but suddenly my pace went from 7:30ish to 11:20ish and I found myself powerhiking to try to get my heart to stop hammering against my ribcage. The biggest hill was right after the 10K and 16K courses split, which really made me wonder if maybe it would have been smarter to run the 10K, but I pressed on and was soon rewarded with a long downhill stretch. But, of course, this was the section of trail that was an out and back, so I knew that every step downhill now was a step I would have to take uphill on the way back. The downhill did help me get my running legs back though and I was able to cruise through the second loop at a decent clip but by that time all of the 16K runners ahead of me had pulled away and I had pulled away from all of those behind me. I basically ran the last 7 miles of the race without seeing a single other runner. I did see some dude hiking, who managed to point me in the right direction when I spaced out and veered slightly off the leaf-covered trail and a few bowhunters who were probably pissed off at the number of runners traipsing through the woods and scaring every deer within a 16K+ figure eight area. Eventually, I made it back to the big hill in between the two loops (it didn't seem so bad going back over) and then headed down the other side toward the finish. As my Garmin clicked past 10 miles and it still didn't seem like I was very close to the finish, I realized that this 16K course wasn't just a little long. Turns out, it was almost a full mile long as my Garmin read 10.5 miles (a little over 17K) by the time I got back to the trailhead (and no, I didn't get lost....that I'm aware of...and if you don't know you're lost, are you really lost?). Time was being recorded on the honor system and as I wrote my time down next to my name I counted the 16K runners who had already finished and saw that I had taken 8th place. Just what I needed (but not really)!

So, over the course of 7 months and 5 races (I missed the July race because I was running the Missoula Marathon that day and there wasn't a race in August), I managed to amass enough points to win the men's open division of the trail series. I've described the series before as being like NASCAR....sometimes the guy who wins the most individual races doesn't always win the overall championship. I didn't win any races, but I showed up to most of them and managed a few top 3s and top 5s here and there and that was good enough. Overall, it was about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on (seriously) and I'm looking forward to doing it again in 2010 (that rhymes). My reward for winning the division was a cool hunk of rock with a 1st place plate on it and free entry to one of the series races next year. Maybe not quite as nice as what the NASCAR Sprint Cup champion gets, but still pretty cool.

Oh, and besides all that, I had a great week of running. I logged 71 miles for the week, my first time over 70 since before Lean Horse. There seems to be some physiological response when I run 70-80 miles....that mileage range just seems ideal for me and I have some of my best runs in that weekly range. So, I plan on keeping that up for awhile.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Slogging along

This wasn't the greatest running week I've ever had. Being sick last weekend left me feeling pretty crappy for the first few runs this week and feeling crappy makes getting motivated to actually go running pretty tough. The good news is that I had planned on cutting back my mileage this week anyhow, so I actually ended up close to my target mileage for the week and showed some signs of life toward the end.

Monday - Rest. Still sick and actually used sick leave because of it for only the 2nd time that I can remember.

Tuesday - 5 miles. Between my throat burning and regular coughing fits and just a general lack of energy, this run pretty much sucked the big one.

Wednesday - 6.3 miles. Throat still burns, still coughing, but not as bad. So it just sucked the little one. I also played basketball at lunchtime, which left me totally winded.

Thursday - 8.5 miles. Felt much better than the last two days, but still not great.

Friday - 9 miles. I woke up at 4 AM to run, said to hell with this and went back to bed. Ended up running after work and had a decent run, although it was tougher than 9 miles really should be.

Saturday - 6 miles. Since I ran Friday afternoon and then got up early on Saturday to do this run (we went to Rapid so Shannon could run a race and then the Grizzly game was in the afternoon, so it was the only time I could do it), it was almost like a double. My legs were still feeling Friday's run.

Sunday - 16 miles. The first two miles went great. Must've still been pumped up from watching Meb win NYC (more on that later). It was all downhill after that. Not precipitously downhill, just a steady decline. I neglected to take a gel with me and I think I paid for it because the last few miles were pretty rough and I felt like I was starting to bonk.

Total - 50.8 miles

Sunday morning was the 40th running of the New York City Marathon. An American hadn't won the men's race since Alberto Salazar did it in 1982. I was 4 years old. Going in, it was expected that an American might have a shot, but if you woulda asked a 100 people who that American would be, I'm guessing at least 95 would've said Ryan Hall (myself included). Instead, it was Meb Keflezighi who shocked the world and claimed the victory. Even better, American men took 6 of the top 10 spots (Hall finished 4th), signaling that the recent east African dominance of the sport might be coming to an end. Meb's story is a great one. He had never won a major marathon before, although he did win a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics. After failing to qualify for the US Olympic team in the marathon and 10,000m in 2008 and then suffering a stress fracture in his hip, many people thought his career was over and he actually considered retiring. But, he fought back and proved everyone wrong. A great win for Meb and a great moment in American running.

I've also gotta brag about my Montana Grizzlies. Their biggest game of the year (so far) was this past weekend against Weber St. Last year, Weber beat Montana in the regular season and the two ended up tied for the Big Sky Conference championship. The Griz got revenge in the quarterfinals of the playoffs and went on to the national championship game. This year, Weber and Montana were again favored to duke it out for the conference title. Montana entered the game ranked #2 in the FCS, Weber was #14. Both have prolific offenses and less than prolific defenses, so it was looking like an old fashioned shootout was in the works. What happened in reality was far from that. The Griz dominated from the start and the defense, which has been suspect all year, finally played up to potential. In the end, the Griz used 4 interceptions (one returned for a TD) and 241 yards from stud running back Chase Reynolds to win easily, 31-10. This basically ensures that the Griz will go to the playoffs for the 17th straight year (an FCS record) and that they'll win their 12th straight Big Sky title (also a record). Of their remaining three games, two are against two of the worst teams in the conference (Idaho St. and Northern Colorado) and the last one is against hated Montana St., who the Griz beat much more often than not. An 11-0 regular season and homefield advantage in the playoffs is looking like a definite possibility. The homefield thing is huge...there's nothing more fun than watching some team from the south come up to Missoula for a playoff game in December. Go GRIZ!!!