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Lori has been doing some heavy lifting on this blog for a while, so I thought I would step in.

At this time last year, I was feeling pretty good about my running accomplishments. I had completed a big year for mileage (1500.5) and had a Boston qualifying run at Grandma’s, which was the first running event sponsored by the Minnesota Pork Board.

Fast forward to closing out 2011. I raced a half marathon in St Paul with a good enough time to get a nomination for MN Runner of the Year (I happened to Google my name). I raced Grandma’s 25 minutes faster than 2010, and was within 1:30 of my lifetime PR for 26.2 miles. I must have reached my running goals on that race, because it was tough to get inspired to train hard the rest of the summer.

Qualifying for Boston again was a true highlight, and I was able to register for the race on the first day. I also had lined up our flights and hotel rooms early, so we won’t scramble trying to get those nailed down. The only thing left to do was train.

Looking for a different challenge, I signed up for the Master Run Coach program, which follows training principles set down by Arthur Lydiard. Without going into details, a runner needs to have a large aerobic training base to add speed to as he gets closer to the race. I am finishing my base training this week, putting in about 70 miles. Wow.

One last thing. I ran 1785 miles in 2011, nearly 20% more. Most of that occurred in the months of November and December, when Boston training kicked in, and snow and ice were not problems like 2010.


I want to begin this post with a huge thank you to all the pork producers in Minnesota. Your financial support and willingness to sponsor Grandma’s Marathon is phenomenal.

Our weekend started with a couple promotional shifts during the Expo. Once again, handing out samples of loin roast and having the chance to interact with runners and their families about the nutrition of pork and the recent change in recommended cooking temperature was a great experience. Thursday night gets a little slow in the DECC Arena during the last hour, so I spent a lot of time interacting with various vendors of running and a couple of Olympians that were there. (a shout-out to Lorraine Moller.)

I saw Beth running the 1/4 mile Whipper Snapper race, and her late charge to a 4th place age group finish was cool. I headed back in to listen to Frank Shorter finish his talk, then got inspired again by Dick Beardsley. My take home message from him this year was to give it 100% and not be disappointed with the results if you do. Lori ran a fantastic 5K, shaving a couple minutes from last year.

The boys and I got up at 4:00 to get dressed and sample some of the light breakfast that the Radisson offered. They went off to the Garry Bjorklund start with Theresa S, Monica, & Theresa K, all great mothers for them. Later I learned that they finished the race in 1:40:05 fashion, having run and experienced it together. They finished 30th and 31st in their age group.

It was raining on the bus ride the Two Harbors, but quit as I got off the bus. I met up with Eric FitzSimmons, another Pork Power runner, and also Ben Linder, a med school student from Easton. We chatted and got off to a nice smooth start.

Weather in the 40’s, cloudy, and a nice tail wind are a nice combination for distance running. After a couple miles, I decided to push a little harder and see what would happen. I rolled through 13.1 miles in 1:31, and even though I felt a little tired, decided to do system checks every 2 miles, instead of walking like I had done last year. About the only issues I had were energy (just enough with a combination of ShotBloks and orange slices) and slight cramping in my right hamstring (I just didn’t press as much the last 5 miles). My finish time was 3:04:29 (chip), which is 1:00/mile faster than last year’s effort. It is good enough to allow me to register for the Boston Marathon on the first Monday, so I will get for 2012. Overall I placed 304th, 240th of males and 24th in my age group. Further details, and even finish line footage, are available here .

To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift. -Steve Prefontaine

“I just got my ass kicked.”

Those were my thoughts as I got off the treadmill last night at my second RunSMART session. I had just finished a 3 minute “run to exhaustion,” and I must have done it right because I was exhausted! The machine was a non-powered treadmill, and the telemetry of speed, power, and time was being fed into a computer, to later be crunched through Excel and presented to us.

I also spent time on a regular treadmill as Dr Pettitt videotaped me from the side and rear. When we reviewed it, no major flaws were found. The one thing I have to work on is increasing the angle of hip hyperextension. I think this will be slowly be addressed through strengthening of the core, especially the iliopsae and prirformis muscles.

Our dietician didn’t pore over our 3 day diary, but pointed us toward some on-line resources to help us assess our logged meals (plus snacks and fluids). A couple takeaways from our time with her are:

Keep your refrigerator and pantry stocked with healthy foods.

Eat good food within 15 minutes of exercise (4:1 carb / protein ratio)   Milk for me 🙂

An 80/20 balance works – Keep about 80% of your caloric intake as good food, and the other 20% will take care of itself.

It is important to show our children how to eat well, and yet not become obsessed about the choices we make.

The results of the treadmill test show that I haven’t done my flat-out best in a race yet. In fact, this data shows what I could do physically if I didn’t let pain and other external inputs allow my brain to reduce effort. All runners have to create a balance between a sense of suffering and the desire to run faster. The best seem to have a higher tolerance for those sensations.

I gained a lot from the RunSMART program. Obviously the physical screening by Dr Pettitt will have lasting benefit as I run into the future. I now have a good resource for core strengthening and stretching and also know where to focus my attention. Dr Kamphoff gave us good guidance on developing a mantra and when we should use it. Mine isn’t flashy, but it does change my focus for a short while I run, and serves its purpose well. April Graff’s approach to nutrition synched well with mine. We need to consume a balanced diet, not label foods as bad, but allow special foods as a treat daily. Also, “Don’t try anything new on race day.”

I hope to post my gait video, and possibly portions of the 3 minute test results in the future.

“‘The right stuff’ on this level is some combination of these four qualities: talent, durability, determination and courage. Not everyone needs a monster four, but everyone has to have some combination of the four of these.” – Mark Wetmore, University of Colorado Cross Country Coach


Last Monday night I had the opportunity to participate in the inaugural RunSMART program that is based in Mankato. This program is a 3-legged stool for runners based on physiology, psychology and nutrition for endurance athletes, and specifically, runners. It is the brainchild on Cindra Kamphoff, PhD at MSU-Mankato, and utilizes the talents of Bob Pettitt, PhD and April Graff, MS for the physiology and nutrition aspects, respectively.

Our first session involved learning strengthening exercises, plus a run-through of dynamic and static stretches. We also had a musculoskeletal screening process to identify weaknesses and imbalances in our body. This screening will be combined with next week’s video gait analysis that will appraise my running technique. I hope to end up with knowledge of what I need to focus on to enable me to run pain and injury-free for years to come.

We spent time discussing the psychology of running (50-90% of performance) with Cindra. There were 4 men in my group, 3 of us masters (1 a triathlete) and a younger guy that has gotten into ultramarathons recently. We seemed to be on the same page about what makes up a mentally tough runner, and shared some of our race experiences and some of our road blocks to better performance. One common theme was importance of family, and how to balance that with the admittedly selfish commitment required of endurance sports.

Next Monday, along with our video gait analysis, we will have our current nutritional intake analyzed and critiqued. We also will have a 3 minute “run to exhaustion” to help us determine training paces and race goals.

Overall, the RunSMART program wraps up the Mind, Body and Nutrition of sports into a neat package. I know that these 2 sessions will help me improve as a runner. I hope that we can create a follow-up session in a month or two to assess progress towards our goals.


Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning. -Albert Einstein


Training for the 35th Grandma’s Marathon has been going well for me. This is the first time in 33 years that I have trained through the winter following a marathon season. In the past, it was busy-ness that was my excuse as the training miles disappeared during harvest.
This winter went well for me. I had tapered off in November and December, running about 10-15 miles/week. I resumed marathon training miles the last week in December, a week ahead of schedule.
Having kept a decent log of my miles and times last year, I am able to compare and contrast. So far in 2011, I am running a few more miles, but more importantly, my workout times are usually running about 30 seconds/mile faster than last year. So with this in mind, I was looking for a challenge.
I got that challenge with Team Ortho’s Get Lucky Triple 7k (half marathon). This race was held on Shepard Road in St Paul just above the Mississippi River last Saturday. A chilly day, it was 27 degrees at the start, with a slight head wind. My goal was to not get psyched out by the pace I was running, but to run hard and see what I could do.
This was an out and back race, and I was within a mile of the leader at the turn around. Even more impressive, he had about a 2 minute gap on the rest of the field, and there were less than 20 ahead of me. While it was mostly uphill on the way back, I just kept chugging away. I finished with a PR 1:25:56 time, about a 6:34 mile pace, that was good enough for 15th overall, 3rd masters and 1st in my age group. Even more satisfying was looking at my mile split times and seeing the consistency in times, only 16 seconds spread over the race (except first and last miles).
5 days later, I feel mostly recovered. I will try a tempo run tomorrow, and should be back on the training schedule, now that I have used that extra week I had started with. Keep running!

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

As I turn the calendar to 2011, I close the books on 2010. Some of  the financial stuff has yet to be done, mostly because I have spent a lot of time watching basketball games. Adam & Beth have a combined schedule of 10 basketball events over the first 2 weeks of 2011, some with multiple games.

There are a few things that I learned while running those 1500.5 miles last year.

First, there are some really neat clothes for runners on the market now. I am not a real clothes horse, but winter running requires protection. I am constantly amazed at the protection from cold that some of these newer materials offer. Thanks Goretex for the Windstop technology. I also picked up some YakTrax to eliminate the poor road condition excuse I used this last December.

Second, a middle-aged guy can learn how to run with a new stride technique. Last January and February I surfed the internet enough to pick up on the barefoot / minimalist running trend and eventually read Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run. A very good story to read. With the new stride technique came the chance to try new shoe styles. While I still have fewer shoes than Monica, I know I closed the gap considerably in 2010

Third, a middle-aged guy can learn to run fast again. I followed a race training plan by Matt Fitzgerald and found speed again. Even though I was disappointed with my 3:30:29 Grandma’s Marathon finish based on training results, I was pleased with it from a perspective of a low mileage base leading up to last January. I also clocked 2 sub-1:32:00 half marathons last year, finishing 4th in my age group both times.

Fourth, due to those half-marathon finishes, I learned that I should start closer to the starting line to fully capitalize on my chances to bring hardware home:) After the Big Woods run, the race director told me that chip timing was used for finish times and placings, not for net times.

Fifth, running is a great way for me to relax. A couple stressful moments happened in the past year that long runs, and the ensuing endorphin rush, helped me get through. I am thankful that I am now in good enough shape to be active that long.

2010, and the miles I put in, transformed me into a runner again. I enjoy training, I enjoy racing, and I enjoy reading about the feats of fellow runners. For my part, I will try to best last year’s mileage and put more of my thoughts on this site.

On Saturday I was able to finish 2 seasons. In the morning I ran my final race of the summer season, and by 9 o’clock that night I had harvested the last bushel of corn from the field. Both gave me a great sense of accomplishment, and I was able to sleep well that night.

After the deluge of rain on September 22 and 23, I could not have imagined that we would have been able to travel across fields with combines and tractors 6 days later, but we did. For the most part, we didn’t find a lot of mud, and where we did, we let the ground dry out some more before we tried again. Because of the sunny, warm and dry weather that followed the rain, the crops were very dry, and harvest went very quickly. We were able to harvest every day after September 28th.

While it seemed like every spare moment was spent in the field, I did take time to watch cross country races in Spring Valley, Duluth, Waseca and Freeborn. I also got a few training runs in, since I had targeted the Big Woods Half Marathon as a goal race for summer training. I need to emphasize the word few, because weekly mileage plummeted to 15-25 miles over those 3 weeks, and I did what I could to make them quality miles.

The Big Woods Run is held near Nerstrand and about 2/3 is run on trails inside the State Park. I had last run the course about 20 years ago when it was held in conjunction with the town’s Bologna Days celebration. I really enjoyed the race then, and Saturday’s race is another fond memory. With the temperature around 50 degrees and a nice clear sky, I knew weather wouldn’t hold me back. My main concern was the lack of confidence building workouts during harvest, compounded with the amount of sitting I had done while operating the combine or tractors. Once we got into the woods, the pack had thinned out. I saw 2 people trip and roll, and I stumbled a couple times on the uneven, leaf-covered surface. While the course is described as being somewhat hilly, a better description is that it crosses a ravine about 4 times. It is a little tricky running down the steep slope, and going up will ruin your pace. However I kept a steady effort and recovered quickly at the top of the hills.

The best feeling I have from the race is that only 1 person passed me during the entire 13.1 miles, and I got him back within a mile. The last mile was a steady uphill and I passed another runner about .2 from the finish.

After that race I was pumped to register for the Boston Marathon, which I had qualified for at Grandma’s. I filled out the registration form twice and it bounced both times because of server overload. I decided to work while it was light out and work on the application later that night. I found out that the field was filled (24,000+ runners) within 8 hours and now am in search of a good spring race to focus on.

Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle. ~Abraham Lincoln


As many have heard, there is a historic rainfall event happening in southern Minnesota. I hesitate to make a guess as to what the impact will be for us farmers, but this is a blog, and I might just as well put something out there.

Harvest had begun for us, and while consuming more time than I wanted, progressing quite nicely. Even with my crop farming partner on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list for harvest due to spinal surgery, about 40% of our soybeans are harvested. I had run out of beans that were fit to harvest, and switched over to corn yesterday afternoon. I have a field of corn that saw too much water this past June and wanted to get it cleared off quickly. After 2 acres were done it started to rain, so we quit.

Well. this is what it looks like now. I have not seen water that far up on this field (farming it for 20 years). I don’t think corn is actually under water, but the short stuff that didn’t drown out in June has about a foot of water on it. What really surprised me when I got to the field was how much water was standing on the high ground, and also how many acres on this piece were standing in water.

The volume of water contained in this storm is stupendous. Just on our 480 acres of owned ground, we saw 84 million gallons of water fall in 24 hours. Each county in Minnesota has roughly 370,000 acres, so the 8 counties (area wise) hit hardest by the rain had over 500 billion gallons of water fall on it. The adjoining areas “only” got half as much rain, so over 1 trillion gallons of rain fell on southern Minnesota in the last 24 hours.

For my farm, I think there will be close to 2 weeks down time for harvest. I hope I have enough good corn to feed the pigs. This delay does give me time to catch up on the needed pig work and get some quality runs in, but I’d rather be able to harvest and get the crop in the bin. Stay tuned!

Each year the United South Central cross-country team holds a scrimmage to kick off the season. It is an opportunity for new runners and their parents to meet the families involved. To create a competition, Coach Vies invites alumni to run. This year there was a great turnout of alumni, enough to create a full team to face off against the current boys and girls teams respectively.

I am proud to say that I was the oldest male alum there. That in itself nearly guaranteed finishing first in my age group! I did clock a pretty impressive time (19:19) for the 4800 meter course and finished 4th overall, so my points counted (maybe the first time in a varsity meet). Brett (20:53) and Adam (14:11 for 2 miles) did fairly well also, and it is fun to run in races with them.

I will also say that today I moved into a new age-group for racing, at least at those that break things down in 5 year intervals.

Time to take off for a birthday supper in Fairmont, so I will cut this short.

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.” (Walter Elliott)

I am sitting in Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport waiting for the final flight back to Minneapolis /St Paul. While here we got news that Brett Favre decided to retire (??) Time will be the final judge on that decision, but it was good for some meal time discussions. That was far less important than some of the time I was out and about the last 5 days.

We traveled to Washington DC to spend some leisure time and soak up a lot of the nation’s history. We were able to see a lot of important sites and sights, and put in a lot of walking miles. One of the best things I did, though, was go for a run every morning (except Sunday). Far from making me more tired, the runs warmed me up and got my day started right. Even though we would be on our feet for 10 hours or so, walking used different muscles and actions than running, so both were compatible. It was also great to see the National Mall with far fewer people around than later in the day.

During 2 of these runs, I had company. Monday morning’s run was with Brett and Adam, complaining about the early wakeup time (6:30), but willing to put in 5+ miles at an “old-man’s pace.” I felt proud that my sons were willing participants in the sport that I enjoy. This morning Lori and I let the kids sleep in while we put in an easy 2 miles to start the day.

All in all it was a great vacation. We live in a great nation and should honor those that helped shaped our country and also those that currently serve our country in various capacities.