Thursday, September 30, 2010

Taking the good with the bad

The last couple of weeks have represented a sharp contrast for me running-wise. After getting back from a work-related trip to Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago, it was like I had been shot out of a cannon on every run. I was cruising through runs effortlessly at paces faster than any I've averaged in a long time. It was my definition of the fabled "runner's high"....being able to just get into cruise control and not feel the effort at all while still moving at a decent clip. It was a fun ride while it lasted, but when it ended, it ended with a thud. I set out for a longish run, 14 miles or so, last Sunday and knew within the first mile that that was not going to happen. I just felt horrible....legs felt weak and I had no energy or ambition. I forced myself through 7 miles, giving me 50 for the week, before calling it quits. Things haven't really gotten better as the week has gone on. I'm getting runs done and some miles in, but they're slow, much slower than last week, and I've had some digestive issues that I can't pinpoint the cause of. If it's not one thing (dead legs) it's another (digestive issues). For example, today I headed out for an 8 mile run on the Tinton Trail, my first trail run since the Thunder Run race a few weeks ago. My legs didn't feel too bad and the run would have been pretty damn enjoyable if not for the fact that my bowels were in revolt for much of it. Too much information or not, a trip to the bushes was required midway through and even after that I didn't feel much better. Again, what to do, what to do?

In any case, I also made a change to my racing schedule last week, which was difficult because of how great I was feeling last week. It turned out that if I ran the Sundance 50K, I would have to miss my son's football game that afternoon (he's playing his first year of youth football). I decided to drop down to the 10K instead, thinking that I could run the race and haul ass to Rapid City in time to watch his game at 1:00. Well, I forgot that the 10K doesn't start until 10:30 and then, to top things off, his game got bumped up to 11:30, making it totally impossible to do both. So, I ditched Sundance, my first ever DNS, and watched the game instead. And it was the right choice. The Spearfish Rams beat the Box Elder Patriots 37-12 and Caid had a blast. And now I know how my mom felt all those years watching me play junior high and high school football....being the parent of a player is nerve-wracking!

As for next year, which I posted about last week, I'm heavily leaning toward the Where's Waldo 100K. The timing is fairly good, right at the start of the school year and before youth football starts again, and the course looks pretty damn awesome (which translates to "harder than hell"). The Deadwood-Mickelson Trail Marathon and the Bighorn 50 in June and the Missoula Marathon in July should give me a solid build-up and I'll probably use a plan very similar to the one I used for Lean Horse this year, but hopefully with more trail miles to prepare me for running in the Cascades.

Okay, excuse me now while I do a little bit of advertising. As you may or may not know, I am one of the co-race directors of the brand spankin new Black Hills 100 (and 100K and 50 mile), which is set to debut June 25, 2011. Registration will open tomorrow, October 1st, at As is usually the case, you can save some dough if you register early. For more information on the race itself, check out, and look up Black Hills 100 on Facebook or Black Hills Ultra on Twitter (Black Hills 100 was already taken on Twitter, believe it or not). We've recently added an elevation profile to the website. Not sure if it is going to attract more people or scare more away. The word I use to describe the Centennial Trail is "relentless" doesn't ever really give you much of a break. Regardless, if you have any questions about the event, feel free to ask them here or through Facebook/Twitter.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What to do, what to do?

Well, now that Lean Horse is over there is a significant void in my running life. For the first time in the last several years, I don't really have any concrete running plans. My legs feel great, I get up every morning (or, if I don't, I go out at lunchtime) and run, but I have no clue what I'm training for and my runs generally just evolve as they go (if I feel done at 6, I stop; if I want to run faster or longer, I do). There are a TON of races out there that I want to run, but I'm having some difficulty choosing which one to do next. Here are the races that I'm kicking around in my head:

Texas Trails 50K (December 11, 2010) - I actually just learned about this one yesterday from a running friend who lives in Dallas. I think she was half joking when she suggested I fly down there and run it, but now I'm actually intrigued by the possibility. It's held on the same trails as the Rocky Raccoon 100, which is a well-respected ultra. Having a relatively cheap direct flight from Rapid City to Dallas doesn't hurt matters.

Rocky Raccoon 50 or 100 (February 2011) - See above. On the one hand, running either the 50 or 100 here is appealing because of the fast, relatively easy course. On the other, I feel like I just ran a fast and easy course at Lean Horse and that I should step up the difficulty a little.

Fargo Marathon (May 2011) - Part of me wants to really train for and run a marathon next year. I ran two marathons in 2010, but both of them were just training runs for Lean Horse, so I didn't put much thought or effort into it. A sub-3 marathon is still a goal and Fargo has a fast, flat course.

Deadwood-Mickelson Trail Marathon (June 2011) - This one is pretty much a given. I live 30 miles away and my friend is the RD. The only question is whether I'll run the half or the full.

Bighorn 50 (June 2011) - This one is pretty much a given too. After my first ever DNF at this race this year, I need to go back and exorcise the demons. Plus, a college buddy just moved to Sheridan, so I have a place to crash.

Missoula Marathon (July 2011) - Another given. I've run this race all four years it has existed. Why stop now?

Leadville Silver Rush 50 (July 2011) - I would really like to do this one to test the Leadville waters (or, more accurately, the oxygen-deprived Leadville air), but it's only 6 days after Missoula, which is a lot of travel in a short amount of time.

Angeles Crest 100 (July 2011) - I've heard good things about this one, although I'm no so sure about running in the high desert mountains in late July....seems like it might be kinda warm.

Where's Waldo 100K (August 2011) - It's relatively near Eugene, which is where my dad lives. And, I've never run a 100K (and there aren't many around). Big problem is travel....getting to Oregon from South Dakota ain't cheap and this would likely be a whole-family trip (you know, since my dad would probably like to see his grandkids).

Cascade Crest 100 (August 2011) - I've seen pictures from the course and it's pretty amazing. Close to Seattle, where I have family. Again, it would be kind of expensive to get there.

Anything after August is pretty much out, with the kids in school and my son playing youth football.

Decisions, decisions....maybe I'll go for a run and think about it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lean Horse Post-mortem

Well, it's been over a week since Lean Horse (seems like ages ago already) and the recovery is going fairly smoothly. Of course, I expected to be a total wreck afterward and the first couple of days I was pretty sore, especially my feet. But by the third day my legs actually felt pretty damn good...much better than they did after I ran Boston (the downhills absolutely obliterated my quads). My feet were another story...they were pretty tender still, mostly from blisters but I also had some swelling in my left foot and still, a week and a half later, there's some loss of sensation in the toes on my left foot. Apparently, this is somewhat normal and probably due to a pinched nerve that will eventually get better. My friend Ryan has the same issue and, in my mind, if it occurs to two or more people, that means it's not a cause for concern (kinda like how if you notice something weird on your left arm and then check your right arm and see that the weirdness is there too, it must be okay). Perfectly logical to me. Certainly not something to waste a $25 co-pay on to go see a doctor about.

I've run four times now since the race. First one was an easy 4 last Thursday. The next day we jetted off to southern California for a family vacation to Disneyland. I didn't run at all Saturday or Sunday, but I did walk at least 500 miles, I swear to God. Well, give or take. I shoulda gotten a buckle for that too. I did run once while we were in California, a 6 miler with my friend Jeff, who until we met up for the run had been an internet friend only. It was good to finally meet him in person after communicating for a few years in various running forums and on facebook. He took me past Angels Stadium and the Honda Center (where the Ducks play) and then along the Santa Ana River trail. Apparently, the definition of "river" is a little different in SoCal than it is in South Dakota. Around here, our rivers generally have water in them. And aren't made of concrete. In any case, since we got back to SoDak on Tuesday, I've run a 7 miler yesterday and then 8.3 this morning. So far, so good, which is good because the next race in the Black Hills Trails Series is coming up on Sunday, the 8.4 mile Thunder Run. I have no idea how my legs will respond to a hard effort on trails, but I'm gonna find out (probably the hard way).

One more note from Lean Horse, after the race it was pointed out to me that my time might be the fastest ever run by a South Dakotan in the Lean Horse 100. I did some checking and, sure enough, it was. There were only 6 finishers from South Dakota in the first 5 years of the event and there were 8 South Dakotans who finished this year. My 20:21 puts me atop that list, but I'm guessing it's a record that won't last long as more and more locals really get into this ultra thing.