Saturday, December 18, 2010

Finished in just under 6.5 hours

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Last Ultra of Year

This Saturday morning I will be running an Ultra in Northern Wisconsin. The Tuscobia Ultra in Park Falls. This being a winter ultra is much like Arrowhead in that you can bike, ski or run it and it's done on trails. This one has multiple distances to pick from. 50K, 75 miles and 150 miles. I slacked off quite a bit after the LeanHorse 100 mile event in August and am building up my mileage again to be ready for Arrowhead. I'm not quite ready for a 75 mile run pulling a sled so I'll just be doing the 50k fun run. The weather looks favorable though I am a bit concerned about the surface in that they've been getting some snow and the trail doesn't get much snowmobile traffic until after Christmas. We need the snowmobiles for packing. Deep snow and I'll use snowshoes but ankle deep I will just use running shoes. Either way I'm looking forward to a fun 31 miles of scenic Northern Wisconsin, running on snow, as I get ready for Arrowhead again the end of January.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

So far this year I've been getting skunked deer hunting. I was doing some research and came across this photo. Are they rushing him to the hospital? He must be alive or they'd have the sheet pulled over his head wouldn't they?

Friday, November 12, 2010

If you gotta start somewhere,
Why not here?

If you gotta start sometime,
Why not now?

If we gotta start somewhere,
I say here.

If we gotta start sometime,
I say now.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Relaxing Fall

It's been a while so I'll get you caught up on what's been going on.

My wife ran the Home Run 10k the end of September. She raised a few dollars for the Roger Maris Cancer Center here in Fargo. We lost both of Kristy's parents to cancer. Kristy performed well and easily made her goal time. I rode bike around the course and cheered. It was a very inspiring day to see some people out there that maybe aren't normally on the road but make it out to this event either as a remembrance of a loved one or a celebration of survival.

This guy was my hero of the day at the Home Run event. Running with Heart.
Shirt: This Run Is For Dad

Next up was a trip down to the Twin Cities to watch my sister Jodi run with her friend Nicole who was trying to qualify for Boston. Having stayed with my other sister Judy and having her cart me around the town was an added bonus. She's lived there all of her adult life and knows her way around which can be a little tricky come marathon day. We were able to see Jodi and Nicole at the start, 14 miles, 20 miles and the finish. They both came in 2-3 minutes under Nicole's qualifying time. It wasn't easy for them but a marathon effort never is no matter what your pace. Jon was there as well and paced with another friend, Connie, who was making her marathon debut. I was only able to catch a glimpse of them at the start but watched their bacon powered triumphant finish on the KARE 11 website.

The FM Mini Marathon seems to be a hit. Kristy and I had many friends running this event so it was a lot of fun for us to watch. We were able to watch the start, head to Lindenwood where we could see the runners 4 different times within a couple hundred feet and then head back to the civic and watch them finish. My buddy Jon wasn't running but his wife(Erin) and sister(Steph) were. Not a good day for a PR with the warm temps but a good day to run and Erin finished strong. This was Steph's first ever 1/2 marathon and she cruised through it with ease and had a smile on her face the whole time.

I ventured out to the grass lands last weekend. My first time back on a trail since Lean Horse. I battled with a couple herds of cattle but was able to get a good run in. With the amount of rain they've had out there this year and a high water table I was still able to keep my feet dry until the last mile.

Next up for me will be the Full Moon 5k. I've never run this event but with it filling to capacity last year in just it's second year, I must be missing something. Just kind of a neat idea to have an event at night. No pr just a fun night out.

After that I'll be getting geared up for a 50k in Iowa on December 11 and then after that I'll start focusing on Arrowhead.

As for today, it's off to Maplewood State Park for a run with some friends and the first annual BaconFest.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Headwaters 100

My friends Jon and Erin are going for a bike ride today. Not just a ride around the block but a 100 mile bike ride. They are participating in the Headwaters 100 which is a bike tour around the lakes country of Park Rapids, Itasca and Lake George area. You can follow their progress by clicking on the link on the right side of this page.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Will Run For Pizza

The trip out west started out nice though as we left Fargo mid afternoon on Friday, things started to deteriorate. Sunny skies turned grey, then rain turned hard(frozen) and then to snow. Yes, snow. September 17th. Kristy and I were sitting in a Bismarck restaurant and laughed as outside it looked like a nice Christmas eve snow. It wasn't bitterly cold and on another day we could have enjoyed it, except in the back of our minds we knew that we were there for a running event and would have to be out in this weather if it held on until morning. After supper it was off to Kristy's brother's house. Kevin, Leigh and their 2 kids, Harley and Tom welcomed us to their home. Some good conversation and we then retired for the night.

Up early and we slowly start getting things ready to go. As usual, the pace quickens as time ticks away until we realize we are just a little behind. We get into the car for the 15 minute drive to the event site and click. Click. Click. Having some mechanical skills, I quickly diagnosed it as a bad solenoid on the starter. We rummaged through Kevin and Leigh's garage to find a flashlight and a needle nosed pliers. That is all I needed to get the car started and we were off. Would it start again? I didn't know but at least we were on our way. With a start to our morning like that, I wondered if things would deteriorate like they did the day before but all in all, Friday turned out to be a pretty good day. Maybe this day would be the same.

Once at the start of the event with our running mates Jon and Erin, we started to hatch our plans and strategy for the race. Remembering doing this event a couple years ago, I mentioned to Jon that they had a tent just for pizza at the finish. Of course, he already knew as that is why we run. I asked Jon for a prediction of our finish time and he quickly said he didn't see a problem with us coming in easily under 4 hours. I said "No way". Jon and Erin just one week prior had busted their butts at the Beardsley half, Kristy has such a laid back approach to running she has to be slow and I am just getting some legs back under me after Lean Horse. My math had us at a 4:09. 4:06 at best. No way could we come in under 4 hours.

About 15 minutes before the run starts, we split up and I walked to my relay exchange station said to be 500 yards away. Actually it was a mile, but it was a nice early morning walk/warm up to running. As I walked past the finish area, I looked for the pizza tent but didn't see it. Erin and Kristy took buses to their exchange points much further out on the course. Jon was taking the first leg, so he stayed back at the starting area. I knew how far the first leg was and figured how fast Jon would be running. Simple math said he'd be there at 8:19 give or take a minute. As that time started to get nearer, I slowly started shedding my warm clothes (it was 31 degrees) and preparing myself for the run. With 5 minutes to go, I was 100% ready except for a trip to a Spiffy Biffy. When I came walking out with 3 minutes to go, there was Jon, calling my name. What the heck I thought. How could he be here so soon. Talk about getting caught with your pants down. Literally.

My run went smooth and without issue. With untested legs, I started slow and let the pace come to me running mostly by my heart rate monitor. The first mile was the slowest and each one got progressively faster for a nice finish to my leg of the event. Being we were running the 5 person relay with only 4 people, it was nice to have Erin's parents, Tony and Luci, as our honorary 5th team member supporting us along the way. Besides cheering us on, they would pick us up at the end of each of our legs and at one point had 3 of our tired, sweaty bodies in the back of their van. I hope they can get the smell out.

Erin was leg #4. For not having done much speed work in her half marathon training, she ran a fantastic leg and kept a sub 10 minute mile pace throughout her 4+ miles. Of course I told Kristy to expect to see Erin come in at around 11:00. So when Jon and I showed up at the last relay exchange at 10:30 and told her that Erin was 7 minutes out, she looked at us in disbelief and scrambled to start getting ready for the final leg of team "PaceMakers" effort.

After Erin handed off to Kristy, we headed to the finish line and to wait for her to come in and maybe grab some post race pizza. Jon thought we'd have enough time to eat pizza, watch Kristy finish and then say, "Hey, let's go get some pizza". By my estimation, a well thought out plan.

The math wasn't looking good for a 4:09 or even a 4:06 finish as I had predicted. Oh well. I've been wrong before but it just wasn't making any sense how I could have been so far off. As we were waiting for Kristy, a running friend of ours, Heather, who had tried to and missed qualifying for Boston at the Fargo Marathon this spring, was giving it another try. She came smoking across the finish line so fast it was amazing. It was a treat to be standing there to see the look on her face when she realized that she had run a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon. Well done.

A few more minutes went by waiting for Kristy to come in and as I watched the clock tick away, I still wondered how my math could have been so far off. As we stood there waiting, we were looking around for where the post race pizza would be and out of the corner of my eye I saw a familiar face coming towards the finish. What? It can't be. My math was off even worse than I thought. It was Kristy. She was running smooth, smiling and looked like she was on her first mile. It was stunning to say the least when I looked at the clock and saw the results of our combined marathon effort. 3:52:50.

If 4:06 was probable, sub 4:00 impossible, what do you call this? I call it a team effort. We all exceeded our expectations. Even though we all intended on going out and just having a good time, this was a team effort and nobody wants to let each other down. Individual accomplishments are nice but they pale in comparison to a successful team effort. Sharing this accomplishment with friends and family is something ultra special.

Kevin, Leigh, Tony and Luci were there to watch the finish and snap a couple photos so all in all it was a great day despite the early morning troubles. Nobody even cared much after we found out that they didn't have any pizza at this years finish line. I guess we were running for something better than pizza.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Headed Out West

Kristy and I are heading to Bismarck today to run the marathon relay with Jon and Erin. We'll spend the night at Kristy's brother’s house, get up early to run the event and head back home tomorrow afternoon. Jon and I will take the first legs and the girls will be doing cleanup. Did this 2 years ago and it was a hoot. Hoping for a sub 4:15 team effort but predicting 4:09.

Her First 100

As I've mentioned a few times, a year ago, I was a the only active Ultra-Runner in the FM area and 1 of only a couple in the state. Now the area has more than a half dozen. One of these runners, Maggie, did her first ultra a year ago at Lean Horse doing the 50k. This year she bumped up to the 100 mile. Here is her story:

Lean Horse was an amazing experience. I knew going in that I was up to face challenges that I had not yet faced in my life. That is why I was so excited to get started.

Up at 4am the morning of, we packed the van and headed to the start. My husband Cory facing his first 50k and Rachel crewing for us (bless her heart!).

We arrived at the start and took some pictures and chatted a bit. The start at an Ultra is not the same as other races. I didn’t even notice the countdown, just that the folks around me were starting to walk.

I was able to run the first 12 miles or so with Cory. Then I began to pick up the pace on my speed walk. My running pace was around an 11mn mile and so was my speed walk. This is why I was able to finish.

I was doing pretty well then my music died…..Facing the heat without tunes was rough. As I came to the aid station around mile 37 I sat down and had a good cry. I picked myself up and forged on. I began to sing out loud, and found almost right away that this was the ticket!

I kept experiencing these ups and downs of emotions with no warning. I would cry and have no reason for it? And when I was feeling high I was on top of the world.

As night approached I watched more people drop so I told myself I would not sit at any more of the aid stations. Another reason I finished in time. Just 5 extra minutes here and there would have put me on the DNF list.

I loved the night I felt like a car! As I would approach small towns I would turn on my headlamp to dim, and as I would leave the town I would flip on my brights! I was totally alone and free. Never in my life have a I felt more calm, safe and at peace with myself.

As night wore on I meet a friend named Perry. Perry was running his first 100 mile as well. He was getting pretty sleepy and didn’t feel so well. So I made it my mission to get him to the finish line. He was very funny and I enjoyed the company very much. Then Perry grew stronger as day was breaking and by then my knees were pretty well gone. Rachel, who had been crewing me all day and night began to run with me the last 10 miles. Things were falling apart. By this time Perry had to move on as I was down to a 40mn mile. My knees were grinding into each other and the heels of my feet were completely full of fluid. The heat was climbing and I was not ready to face it in this state. I was sobbing and in excruciating pain. Somehow Rachel got me to the finish and to this day I have no words to express my gratitude for that! Cory also crewed me all night after running himself. I knew that Rick and Cory would be waiting at the finish. I just could not let them or myself down. I was very ill when I finished but I take it all as a learning experience. I can’t wait to do it all again.

Maggie Beal

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dick Beardsley Half

Kristy and I headed east early Saturday morning to the Dick Beardsley Half Marathon in Detroit Lakes. Being I'm still in recovery from Lean Horse and not running much yet, I was looking forward to being on the sidelines with Kristy cheering on friends.

We got there about an hour before the start to catch some of the excitement and wish our running friends well. If you read this blog and are not a runner, be careful if you ever attend a running event like this one. The energy is overwhelming. I was so cranked up before the start, I felt like running it in my blue jeans. Thankfully my friend Jon, who was running and hoping to PR at this event, handed me his camera to take some photo's as today was his bride's first ever half marathon. Erin and Jon have been training hard for a while now and today was hopefully going to be payday. As it turned out, it was as Jon did set a personal best and took 30 minutes off his DB 1/2 marathon time from last year and Erin finished 1 minute better than her goal time.

We watched the start and were able to catch the runners at 4 or 5 spots along the coarse. We'd see them and then hop in the car to leapfrog ahead. At the 3 mile mark we were coming up from behind and passing the last runners. About a quarter mile ahead of the them the city crew were already picking up traffic cones. Kind of disrespectful to the last couple dozen runners, we remarked to each other, if not a safety issue. We ended up stopping at the 6.5 mile mark, got out of the van and stood on the corner to cheer the runners on and wait for our friends. There were cones on the corner were we were standing and after about 5 minutes, here comes the city crew to pick them up. At this point, in my estimate, less than half of the runners had come by, I remarked to the young man picking up the cones that it seemed a bit premature. He said he was just doing as he was told. I asked who had told him to pick them up and he just said, "The city." Kristy and I kind of barked at the more mature guy driving the truck and he came out to chat with us, saw how busy the corner was and told the young men to put the cones back. Surprise. Somebody can reason. I just can't imagine what the hurry was picking up the cones.

This little issue pales in comparison to the stories I've heard of the disgruntled postal carrier but maybe points to just a little disorganization of the event. (check out Steve Wagner's Addicted To Running Blog) This event brings a lot of people and money to DL and they need to show the runners a bit more respect much less do more to keep them safe.

All in all it was a super day at the races. Beautiful fall weather in the beautiful Detroit Lakes area is hard to beat. The neatest part of all is to see the satisfaction in the tired and beaten bodies of the runners who, at one point during the event, all questioned why they are doing this only to have a renewed enthusiasm after crossing the finish line. Most of them are already looking for another one.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Earning A Buckle

Before I headed out of town last week for the Lean Horse 100 out in the Black Hills, my friends were asking me if I was ready. I want to be honest - but don't want to cause concern in my non-running friends so I usually just say yes. To my running friends I'll usually say, "No I'm not, but I'll make it through". This is probably my attraction to ultra running in that you never really know what is going to happen. How can you be ready for what you don't know? Will I meet my goals or will I even finish? In an ultra, there is a lot of time for things to go wrong but also a lot of time to correct them.

Going into this event, I had my usual 3 goals where if I accomplish any one of them, I will view it as a success. First was to finish, second was to improve upon my Kettle Moraine time of 28:21, and third was to finish sub 24 hours. Like I said earlier, with so many variables over 100 miles so many things can happen. If my only goal was to break 24 hours, which I did not, then the event would have been viewed as a failure. I think Lean Horse was a success in that it taught me quite a bit and though I believe I am capable of a sub 24 on this course, it just wasn't my day and I'm OK with that.

Being I didn't have any family support or crew with me, it was nice to have 3 other local ultra runners (Cory, Maggie and Rachel) down there to hang out with on Friday. We got signed in, picked up our bib numbers and then hooked up for supper at a local diner in Hot Springs. And speaking of "Hot", it was 102 on Thursday, 100 on Friday, with the forecast for a cooler Saturday which saw a high of only 93. Much better than Thursday and Friday. It's a dry heat.

Saturday morning we met up at the start and posed for a quick photo. It was a starting line full of excitement as Cory was starting his first ever ultra in the 50k. Poor guy had never run a marathon and now he was toeing the line of an ultra in the Black Hills. I guess that's what happens when you are married to Maggie, who was lined up for her first ever 100 mile ultra. Our friend, Rachel, who was going to enter the 100 mile event but had to withdraw because of an injury, was there which worked out well for the rest of us needing some support. Though she was there to crew primarily for Maggie, I knew in a pinch I could rely on her to bail me out. That safety net offered me much peace of mind throughout the event. When Cory had successfully finished his 50k, he and Rachel were a welcome sight when I was coming in to the aid stations. They were generous with support and encouragement and I'd always leave the aid stations feeling energized. Until they themselves run a 100, I don't think they'll ever know how much their support helped me have a successful event.

The only negative of the event was some poor judgement on my part. I got myself a bit dehydrated early on and with it being mostly sunny and 93 degrees, I was playing catch up all day. Once I realized my situation and started to rehydrate myself, I then became low on electrolytes which get diluted down too much with more water intake. The downward spiral continued. It had me confused to whether I was over hydrated or under hydrated, too many electrolytes or not enough. A frustrating situation that I had put myself in and I was very disappointed in myself as this is not the first event this has happened to me in. You'd think I'd have learned by now. The dryness of the air I think fooled me into not realizing it was as hot as it was so I was only drinking an average amount of water. It was probably mid afternoon when I realized I was in trouble and nearly midnight before I had things under control. Those were some difficult hours, but I think you have to anticipate difficult times in events like this and just keep moving forward.

So move forward I did for the overnight hours and then having 17 miles to go just before the sun was coming up I was re-energized. I saw the crew as I was leaving an aid station and Rachel said it looked like I finally had some color back in my face. After slothing through many miles during the night, a hilly part of the course let me get my legs loosened over a few miles which let me put the hammer down and make the final 10 miles some of my fastest of the event. I passed over 20 people in those last 10 miles. Most struggling with every step. It was hard to not feel bad for them as I passed wondering if they'd finish which, at that point, was all they were trying to do literally, one step at a time. These are some tough people.

With 2 miles to go, I was back in Hot Springs as the locals were buzzing around town doing their business and some heading to church. They must have been very aware of what was going on as they'd all honk, wave and yell congratulations. It was quite humbling to hear congratulations from strangers for doing something as goofy as running 100 miles.

Starting the event at 6:00 a.m. Saturday, I crossed the finish line at 8:38 a.m. Sunday morning giving me a finish time of 26:38 and earning my Lean Horse Belt Buckle. Maggie finished her first attempt at a 100 just behind me for an awesome effort earning her buckle and placing within her age group. 159 people entered the event and 95 finished. I finished 48th. Looking back on all of the struggles I went through, I wouldn't change a thing. I learned so much about the Black Hills environment, camaraderie and myself that I can say I enjoyed every mile. Can't wait to do it again.

Sunday, August 29, 2010



This message has been sent using the picture and Video service from Verizon Wireless!

To learn how you can snap pictures and capture videos with your wireless phone visit

Note: To play video messages sent to email, Quicktime@ 6.5 or higher is required.

17 to go

17 to go

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mile 64 at 10:15PM central time in Custer, South Dakota.
54.5 miles at 7:40 central time. almost barfed but took a ginger chew. it saved the day.
49.8 miles at 6:20 p.m. Central time. All is well. Still hot.

Pretty nice here. I'm slightly dehydrated. Oops

36 5 at 3:04 Central

36 5 at 3:04 Central

31 down as of 1:45

31 down as of 1:45 central

16 5 Getting warm

16 5 Getting warm

5 5 in. All is

5 5 in. All is well.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I'd rather be at Arrowhead

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lean Horse Hundred

I'm off to the Black Hills of South Dakota this weekend for the Lean Horse 100. Looks like it going to be a hot one. No, they didn't name it "100" for the forecast temps over the next couple day but for the 100 miles. I guess you could expect it to be a warm event considering it starts in the city of Hot Springs, SD. As always with the heat you just have to slow down and stay hydrated. So far I've been pretty good at both.
I'm not bringing any crew along with me this time because of poor planning on my part. I didn't realize that school started this early in August so Kristy and the girls need to stay home. I won't have the tracking on at this event though I hope to keep you updated as to my progress via the blog. I will view this as my support and look forward to posting. Please forgive me if the posts are short, misspelled and seem a little incoherent. It may or may not be reflective of my current state.
The event website has some good info about the event as well as a good map of the course if you'd like to follow along.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Almost Full Circle

Little did I know when asked for a favor from a friend that it would have such an impact on me. I got a call from my friend Mark Knutson that Pastor Dale's sermon on Sunday would be about perseverance and would like someone running on a treadmill before, during and after the service. As much as I dislike the treadmill, I agreed to do it and quickly had thoughts of regret. Oh well, what can be the worst thing that could happen? I trip and fall? I choke on a drink of water? I have to use the bathroom? I get an injury?

Pastor Dale talked about the keys to running a successful marathon and tied them in with everyday life and it made for an excellent message. There was communion this day and they even brought it to me. How many can say they took communion while running on a tread mill?

What really got me though was a hymn that was sung. The church I'm a member of has 3 services on Sunday during the summer. The one I was running at is more traditional than the service I normally attend so of course the music is less contemporary and more traditional as well. One of the hymns sung was "On Eagle's Wings" (based on Isaiah 40:31 and Psalm 91) which I had not heard since January of 2005 at my brothers funeral. I was not familiar with the song back then though as we were sitting at the funeral home planning the ceremony it was suggested. I mentioned that I did not know the song so the pastor of Gene's church sang the refrain and though the song is very uplifting it brought us all to tears. Needless to say it was in.

Being I was running on a treadmill, I did not have a church bulletin in front of me so I had no idea what music was scheduled. When "On Eagle's Wings" came up it was quite emotional for me as I felt things had almost come full circle. My brother Gene's untimely death was what got me running and though some people play an instrument, sing in the choir or teach Sunday school for their church, here I was running on a treadmill. Maybe things haven't yet come full circle but at least I know I'm on the right path.

Isaiah 40:31
....but those who hope in the lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Matter of Perception

Last weekend I was back in my hometown of Halstad Minnesota for an all school reunion. When my sister Jodi agreed to be the race director of the 5k they were having the Saturday of the reunion, she asked me if I would assist her and tasked me with coming up with a course to run. "No problem" I said. I started mapping out a course that would snake it's way through our little hometown. Past our house, the school, the nursing home and the two churches. You know, the highlights of town. Once that was done, I had to figure where we would run the other two miles. I never realized how small the town was.

As a kid, it seemed like a lot of work to ride my bike up town to get a something from the store for Mom. Last weekend, I measured it. Round trip, .34 miles. And in the winter, the sledding hill was nearly out of reach being on the other side of town. It was so far we had to take a snowmobile. We walked to Creamery Hill last weekend. It was 1.1 miles round trip. Do the hills get smaller as we get older?

A few years ago, when I started running, I dreamed about the day when I would be able to run over to my brother John's house and then back home again. It seemed like a long way to go. Round trip would be just a little over 5k.(3.1 miles) Now, some days I leave home running the opposite direction of his house and still end up running by. Did the distance get shorter?

Saturday morning after we put on a successful 5k, Jodi and I went out for a run. We ended up running the 5k course I'd set up and then to the next town and back. A distance that we didn't even like driving when I was young. Didn't seem too far to run. Or did it get closer?

Whether you are facing your first 5k or the last 3 miles of a 100 mile event, it's all a matter of perception. 3 miles is 3 miles and what seems impossible today will seem easier and shorter once you've accomplished it so go for it. It's all doable. At least that is my perception.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Busy 4th

For the past 4 years, the 4th of July has been kind of a blur for me as my first ever Ultra event was the Afton Trail Run which is always held the first Saturday in July which means 2 things. It is very close to a national holiday and it is hot. This year was no exception with the 4th on Sunday and the Afton Trail Run on Saturday the 3rd. And, oh yea, 93 degrees.

Friday at 5, Tim, Jarod, Jon and I headed out of town in the RV headed south. Stopping along the way to grab a bite to eat and then to a Walmart parking lot for some sleep. 4 a.m. came quick and off we were to the event site where we got parked, picked up our packets and begin our race prep. I don't think we heard a weather forecast though we all knew it was going to be hot. Tim and Jarod were going to use their hydration backpacks. After a second thought, it seemed like a good idea. Problem was, I left mine at home. Oh well. I wasn't intending on a PR or anything so I would just cruise the course with my hand held bottle and maybe use a second bottle.

6:30 and we were off. The temp at that time was comfortable. Jon even said while waiting for the start of the 25k, at 7:30, it was a bit cool standing around. As we headed off, I was wondering what Jarod and Tim were thinking of the coarse that I had encouraged them to try. Tim did a 50k last fall on the Superior Hiking Trail which was very difficult but for some reason, Afton seems equally tough. Maybe it's the heat or some of the long uphills. And Jarod, who had done the Trail Mix 50k in April as his first ultra, was getting a taste of some serious climbs and some fairly technical course. I was hoping they were enjoying it although I knew at some point they would come to hate it which is usually par for this course.

The temps were rising quickly and at the halfway point it was starting to get to me. Miles 13-15 are on single track in a really low spot where the air does not move. Tim was right behind me as we motored our way through the technical terrain. We kept a nice, steady, difficult pace. When we got out of the trees and had a half mile to go to the half way point, I really felt the effects of the trail, the heat and the pace. Our drop bags were waiting for us at the 15.5 mile mark where I grabbed more fuel and my "Cool Off" bandanna that I can fill with ice. Tim was smart and had worn his from the start. I grabbed some supplies for the second loop and then, needing some quick calories grabbed a couple PB&J sandwiches off the aid station table. We took off and I could tell that the food was not going to settle if I was running so I had to walk for a while. I slowly watched Tim disappear. He looked strong so I was glad he didn't slow to my pace. When I got back to running I still felt a little funky. I had chugged a bunch of ice cold water at the aid station and with your body only able to absorb so many ounces per hour, I now had to pee. I found out then what my problem was. I was dehydrated. I knew that with my recovery being slow from the Kettle Moraine event and my lack of training, along with the heat, today was going to be a day of survival that I would easily do as I was just going to cruise around the coarse. The fact is I took it way to casual. I was hydrating, but not enough and I got behind. It took me and hour and a half to get back on track as far as hydration goes to where I felt normal again. Another lesson learned I guess.

There were quiet a few drop outs during the event mostly because of the heat though there were a couple serious injuries. Along the route I talked to a few people that had attempted Kettle Moraine and found out that hypothermia was the cause for many of the runners to end their event which saw only 51 out of 155 finish the 100 mile course.

All in all, it was a wonderful event and I hope the guys that came down with me enjoyed themselves as well. It was fun to spend time with them, not running, and just talking about life. Though I learned so important running lessons on the course, the more important things were learned on the way down and the way back.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Average Joe

I had some friends participate in last weekends Average Joe Triathlon in Perham. They tried to get me to do it and I am now kind of regretting that I didn't as it looked like a lot of fun. The swim, which a lot of people fear the most, was short and the water wasn't very deep so if you needed to push off the bottom you could. I don't have a fancy road bike, well, it was fancy when it was new in the early 80's, but I don't think that would have mattered much as I saw people there using mountain bikes with big knobby tires. Maybe I'll update my bike with a carbon fiber seat and I'll be ready to go. No matter what, it looked like my kind of event. Laid back and friendly. Yes there were the hardcore triathletes there and all of the competitors worked their butts off, but you could sense that the event was more about coming together than putting someone behind you. Lot's of laughing, lot's of fun but still a true test for everyone. There were a lot of first time triathletes. You gotta start somewhere. I'll do this event next year on my bike that is older than most of the competitors. Then maybe I'll update to some carbon fiber front forks.

Friday night I will be off to the Twin Cities to participate in the Afton Trail Run which is a hilly 50k ultra marathon. This was the place of my first ultra just 3 years ago and still one of my favorites. They offer a 25k event as well and between the 25k and 50k they have a capacity of 500 runners and usually fills up.

As an added bonus, 4 of us will be traveling together. Tim and Jarod will be doing the 50k and Jon the 25k. With my recovery being slow since the Kettle Moraine event, I really don't know how my body is going to respond to the 6,600 feet of elevation loss/gain and the warm July temps. As always, I'll start out slow, take what the trail will give me and hopefully stay injury free.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Blood Donation

My body is still in recovery from the Kettle Moraine event and with a couple weeks to go before the Afton Trail run, I thought now would be a good time to donate blood. I haven't been able to donate in almost a year, as every time I would go to donate, my heart rate would be too low. I tried going in the a.m., after a work out, in the middle of the day, and after supper, but nothing seemed to work. When I'm in recovery, the heart rate is up a bit so I made an appointment for right after work hoping it would be above 45bpm which is the minimum. I swallowed my last swig of coffee just before leaving work and after parking, jogged into the building to donate. I sat in the waiting room for 5 minutes trying to stay keyed up before they took me back and asked me all the goofy questions and do a blood draw as well as take my blood pressure, temperature and pulse. I made it. It was 50. Thank you Juan Valdez.

An Ultra Friend of mine, Ben Clark, who finished the KM100 just 2 weeks ago, is running another 100 this weekend. The Big Horn 100 in Wyoming. Ben, being a college student, has a pretty busy running schedule this summer as it's hard for him to get away during the school year. I will be excited to hear how he did.

Also, many friends from the area are running Grandma's in Duluth. I hope to get there someday as I've heard very good things about the event, except for the cost of hotel rooms. I did a 100k event in Duluth last fall, but the draw isn't quite the same as Grandma's 10,000+ participants, so the hotel room rates are decent. There were 12 finishers in the 100k. I guess 62 miles on the Superior Hiking Trail isn't appealing to most. I felt fortunate to be a part of it.

And then there is the Red River International Bike Tour (RRIBT ) that starts next week, which a couple friends of mine are doing. On Monday, Jon and Erin will leave Grand Forks and make a 57 mile trek to Mayville. And if that is not enough to make your butt ache, on Tuesday they travel 78 miles to Valley City, Wednesday 53 miles to Cooperstown, Thursday 45 miles to Hatton and then just 44 more miles Friday to the finish in East Grand Forks. And they say running more than 26.2 miles is crazy. I'm walking bowlegged just thinking about sitting on a bike for that long. I'm hoping for nice weather for them.

As for me, no running events this weekend as I'm headed to the lakes after work tonight and coming back home tomorrow for a get together with some of the local ultra runners. Next week will be a tough week - back in the saddle and building for the 6,600 feet of elevation up and down of Afton in a couple weeks.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Wife's View of the Kettle Moraine 100

I asked Kristy to give her take on the Kettle Moraine 100. She brought a book to read while I was out having fun and never cracked it once. I think she probably has more stories than I do. Here is what she had to say:

What I learned during the Kettle Morraine 100

· I Love Wisconsin – Hills, trees, and multiple “Cheese” signs

· It ‘s a great help to drive to the aid stations the day before the race to get acclimated to the driving route between aid stations

· Sprinting off the starting line isn’t needed at the beginning of an ultra

· Aid station workers are wonderful. I saw more than a few runners brought back to life after sitting on a chair in front of a propane heater with warm chicken noodle soup in hand

· Green olives must be good for refueling during an ultra

· Four people I spoke with had run either the half or full marathon during the Fargo Marathon in May 2010. All had really nice things to say about their experience.

· The usual token person, upon hearing that we were from Fargo, mentioned the movie, “Fargo”.

· A bull frog croak sounds like a cow mooing

· A person can see the look of pride when speaking with a crew member of another runner as well as see their genuine concern for yours

· Seven inches of rain in six hours is a crazy amount of rain and a real challenge for trail running.

· Some phrases that runners do not respond to “Daddy, did you fall down?” and “ Oh, you’re dirty” and “Quit walking like Grandpa!”

· Paper bags and rain don’t mix. Crew transporting gear to aid stations in paper bags didn’t have much of a bag left by the time the rain stopped

· The cardinal is a beautifully big, bright red bird

· Tarps are a good spot for runners’ drop bags. Not so much when it rains, as the tarps make a wonderful spot for a pool

· There can be much communicated in exchanged looks between everyone at an aid station while standing in beating rain and hearing that first crack of thunder

· A person can only handle eating so many granola bars in one day

· Good breath-holding skills are put to the test in a vault toilet

· You can plan to do a lot of reading during a 28 hour period and not open the book once

· Sometimes a hot cup of coffee tastes like it came right from heaven

· Spotting your runner coming from a distance toward the aid station is a good feeling

· If they aren’t limping, it’s even better

· Hearing “I think it’s gonna snap” is never good

· Things that aren’t what they might seem at first impression:
Spectator opening up a completely closed-up vehicle, talking to something that’s been locked inside the HOT vehicle and sharing a piece of banana with it. She was feeding a parrot!

Hearing these stern words from a man behind you “Sit, Lisa!” He was talking to his black lab

· A small town pizzeria can make a late night pizza in 15 minutes. Delivery person can have girlfriend ride with. Must be able to maneuver a quick U turn ending up parked in front of the shop. A slight curb hop is okay.

· You can work up a “sympathy” blister in shoes that you’ve worn a gazillion times before

· A small nap does wonders for a person – spectator and runner alike.

· Some runners can flop face down at an aid station and be sleeping in a matter of seconds

· You can never bring along too many clothes. I even used the rain coat, rain pants, umbrella, winter hat and gloves.

· The town of Fort Atkinson, WI exudes Packer pride with their hunter green garbage cans sporting “taxicab” yellow covers

· New Pretzel M&Ms are really good and only 150 calories per bag

· Too much ice in the cool- off bandana can cause loss of sensation in your runner’s neck area

· The Wisconsin Dells isn’t the same without our kids

· Somewhere you can buy a HUGE plastic bag of Famous Amos cookies . One aid station had three of them!

· “Morraines” are an accumulation of stones, boulders or other debris carried and deposited by a glacier

· The race directors put on a wonderful event at the Kettle Morraine 100 and make each participant feel important. One of the race directors even remembered Rick’s name from a prior race that he had done in Madison.

· Most normal folk chuckle when they talk about this event ‘s 38 mile night “FUN Run”. I think the word FUN mentioned along with ‘38 miles’ and ‘night’ is hard for most of us to comprehend as being in the category of fun.

· Watching Rick cross the 100 mile finish and be presented with his 100 mile finishers kettle was wonderful I would do it all again tomorrow!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Running For The Copper

From the Kettle Moraine Website:

15th Annual Kettle Moraine 100 Endurance Runs
June 5th and 6th, 2010

It started, it RAINED, it ended. For those of us at the 2008 Kettle we never thought the rain could get worse. In 2009 we were fortunate enough to have only minimal rain and ideal conditions.

2010 arrived with a record number of entrants and an expectation for a record number of finishers. The cool morning saw a blistering pace which would forebode trouble.

The meadows heat built and caused many problems for people. Then the saving grace of rain occurred, but we soon learned we must be careful what you ask for. It rained cats and dogs for more than 6 hours....never letting up to allow the trail to drain. Those individuals who persevered are truly worthy of their awards.


Smiling at 99.9 cause I'm still having fun
You really can not go into events like this with the anticipation that you know what the outcome is going to be. When there is 100 miles of ground to cover and 24+ hours of weather, there are just way too many factors that come into play. I guess that is part of the attraction to an ultra. The question is always out there. Will I finish? Will I even make the cut offs? How much more of this "fun" can I take?

Last Saturday's event was truly one of perseverance. In other words, you just had to put your head down and keep plowing away. The conditions were awful as the humidity started to climb as fast as the heat did after the 64 degree, 6 a.m. start. The heat and humidity of the afternoon, most of which was spent running across open meadows, sucked the life out of me. The grass was cut but had grown to about 6-8 inches and latched onto your shoes. I slowed down to a pace at which I thought I would be OK, but I was still overheating as it reached a temp of 80 degrees and 87% humidity. I knew rain was going to come and at about 4 o'clock it did, which was nice. The problem was it just didn't stop. Just when you thought it couldn't rain any harder, it did. And then when you thought again it couldn't rain any harder, it did. And it didn't stop until 10 o'clock. At one point I was going up a fairly steep uphill, where I was now back in the woods, and the water running down the trail was deep enough that I couldn't see my shoes. I didn't mind as now I was not overheating and I was out of the open meadow where I would have been a lightning rod. I had mentioned to my wife, Kristy, at one of the aid stations that I was hoping for some "normal" food. She met me at the 55 mile aid station with a sub from Subway. As I sat under a canopy eating my sub, I was a little disheartened to see people quitting or at least talking about quitting. They were just 7 miles away from the 100k mark. Why would they quit now? I guess we all have our own battles to fight. That Subway sub made me feel like Superman, so off I went with renewed vigor.

Reaching the 100k mark is a critical time. You are actually back at the start/finish line as the 100 mile event consists of 2 out and backs - one of 62 miles and one of 38. If you stop at that point, you get credit for finishing the 100k event. The temptation to quit at that point is great. I knew this going into the event so I heaped it on to Kristy about not listening to any of my whining about how bad I was feeling and that maybe it would be a good idea to quit. She had strict instructions to say, "You've got no broken bones. Your not barfing or bleeding so get going." Once I got to the 100k mark, I had many,many excuses I could have used to stop. But not 1 reason. So I ate the other half of the glorious sub that Kristy had got for me, changed my socks and off I went for the last 38 miles. It was just before 11 p.m. and though the rain had stopped, the low spots on the train were soaked from the 7 inches of rain we had received earlier. I mentioned to Kristy about the futility in changing my socks since they were certain to become soaked again. Heading back out, I soon found myself in water over my ankles. I looked at my watch and found that my fresh socks had lasted just 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Oh well. My feet where hamburger already anyway.

Things went pretty slow the next 20 miles as fatigue and dark of night really starts to remind you that you are human. Odd sounds that spook you at first become comforting after awhile even though you don't know what they are. A loss of concentration put me stumbling through the woods way off the trail where I came to rest up against a tree. That woke me up for a while, but I soon fell back into a late night funk. But after the 81.5 mile mark and a turn around point of the out and back, I felt energized. The sun was up enough that I didn't need my lights anymore and with only 18.5 miles to go, the end was near. I could feel the energy building in me with each mile and with each mile my pace got faster and easier. I felt bad for the people I passed that were really struggling and tried to offer encouragement. Many of them didn't make the finish.

I crossed the finish line completing the 100 miles in 28 hours 21 minutes and into the arms of my much supportive wife. I hugged her and said, "We did it" as I know for certain that I would not have completed it if it were not for her assistance. Out of 168 entrants, only 49 were able to finish. I feel lucky to be one of them. No, not lucky, but blessed.

It was a special day. I got my copper kettle. What more could you want for running 100 miles?


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Done 28 Hours 25 Minutes unoffically

Looking strong! Left here at 8:30 Am. On the home stretch

coming in to mile 85.9

This message has been sent using the picture and Video service from Verizon Wireless!

To learn how you can snap pictures and capture videos with your wireless phone visit

Note: To play video messages sent to email, Quicktime@ 6.5 or higher is required.

5:25 Am Rick took off from the 81 Mile aid station

The sun is starting to come up and there are lots of birds singing

This message has been sent using the picture and Video service from Verizon Wireless!

To learn how you can snap pictures and capture videos with your wireless phone visit

Note: To play video messages sent to email, Quicktime@ 6.5 or higher is required.

departed aid station 77 Mile at 3:52 Am. Battling a few painful blisters
rick left aid station mile 70.3 At 1:00 Am Fire flies are out

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Rick left mile 55 Aid station at 8:05 Pm. The trail is reportably to be a "river"
47.3 Miles at 5:28 Pm. Raining fairly hard with a little wind. Getting Subway For rick
Weird spectator award goes to the parrot at mile 37

Left this aid station 1:15 Pm

This message has been sent using the picture and Video service from Verizon Wireless!

To learn how you can snap pictures and capture videos with your wireless phone visit

Note: To play video messages sent to email, Quicktime@ 6.5 or higher is required.

looking good
15.5 Miles at 9:14 Am
7.4 Miles in at 7:25 am

Ready to go

KM100 Tracking

Click the above for tracking me starting at 6 a.m. today as I travel through the Kettle Moraine Forrest in Wisconsin.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Short Work Week Doesn't Mean The Work Is Over

With this already being a short work week because of Memorial Day, it's even a bit shorter for me as Kristy and I will be heading out of town Friday morning for the Kettle Moraine Forrest in Wisconsin. Saturday at 6 a.m., I will be off and running the KM100 which offers events of 100 miles, 100k (62 miles) and a night "Fun Run" of 38 miles. Except for crossing a few highways, there is no pavement on the course. Grass, sand, dirt, mud, roots and rocks will be the norm for most of the course that has 12,006 ft of elevation loss/gain. For us flatlanders, that means climbing to the top of the Fargo Radisson Hotel (206') and back down again every 1.7 miles or 58 times over the 100 miles. Ultra Friends Joel and Tim did 50 miles of this coarse just 4 weeks ago.
I'll put up a link for tracking. Being I have the unit attached to my backpack, and I won't be wearing it all the time, some of the tracks may be an hour or so apart and will correspond to an aid station I am at. When you see the tracks coming 10 minutes or so apart you'll know I have the backpack on. I just don't know right now how often that will be. Kristy may send a note to the blog from time to time to let you know how things are going. Should be an exciting event.

Take a peek at the event website, KM100, where under "Run Information" you can find a map of the coarse which is essentially 2 out and backs. One heading north and back again for a total of 63 miles and the second heading to the south for 37.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Turning The Page

About this time 3 years ago my oldest daughter, who is now in medical school, graduated from the University of Michigan. It was a somber day in Ann Arbor as we packed all of her belongings to bring back home. A lot of memories came to the surface as she reflected on what was a critical and very defining 4 years of her life. So many things had happened over that time that I'm sure for her it seemed like a lifetime which was now coming to an end. I mentioned to her that your life a book for you to write. Every day you write another page that adds up to a chapter. As in any good book, even some of the best chapters have to come to an end. Thankfully, it doesn't stop there. And so like a good writer, when a chapter in your life is over, you turn the page and start writing a new one. You don't forget the chapters before as they all have a hand in making the story what it is now.

So as we close the chapter on the 2010 edition of the Fargo Marathon, for which I must say was the most difficult and fulfilling marathon I have ever run, I am super excited to start writing the next chapter of my Ultra Life.

Again, thanks for following along as we prepared for the Fargo Marathon. It was a memorable event for all who participated. I'm already excited for next year. But then, that will be a chapter or two down the road.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The End of the Road

Again, wow. What a day. A day full of all kinds of excitement. The weather, the goals realized and the goals that some had to let go and save for another day. All in all it was an exceptional day. Hat's off to the Fargo Marathon race committee. So many things were done right in the past years that I didn't even think could be or needed to be improved upon. The committee does listen to runners and takes their comments and concerns very seriously. You voiced your concerns and they have responded. I know right now they are planning on how they can make things even better for next year. A very impressive group of individuals who of could not have accomplished their objective without the support of the community and the volunteers which are exceptional. From the aid station workers to the police and traffic volunteers who kept us safe and though were focused on safety were able to offer a cheer for runners as well. I truly appreciate the effort all have made to provide me and 20,000 other runners a safe, fun coarse to run on.

It started off well with our family and friends group of runners gathering at the motor home outside the dome as we have for these past 5 years. A rainy star turned into a nice but humid day. I'm ok in heat but the humidity took it's toll on me, averaging over 80% before we finished, but had little impact on my sister Jodi as she made her Boston qualifying time of 3:45 by crossing the line with a minute (and 2 seconds) to spare.

My running buddy Jon struggled late in the event but gutted it out and finished strong with a big smile on his face. Asked if he was going to plan for another marathon there was no hesitation at all when he said he would. I'm so proud of Jon for keeping a positive attitude through such a difficult event. 26.2 miles is a long way to be alone with your thoughts. The distraction of the crowd is nice but in the later miles it seems like all you can hear is your body telling you to stop. We all go through this. That is the test of the marathon.

So with sore legs and my thoughts moving forward to an event I have coming up in a couple weeks, it is kind of sad that my work here is done. Fargo Marathon asked me what my 20x10 was, "To encourage and support others in reaching their goals" and asked me if I'd blog about it. I did. I had fun and I hope that I was able offer some encouragement and support to some of you out there that have read the blog, contacted me or talked to me on the street. Along with that, I hope some of my goofy adventures have entertained you and maybe offered you a little insight as to what makes me tick. For me, I'm still trying to figure that out so if you know, don't tell me. I hope I never figure it out as I don't want to stop trying. I'm having way too much fun. So long for now. It's been fun.


I will have some more runs and events coming up in the future where you can track me. If you are interested in following along or hearing more about the events and my thoughts, let me know and I will keep it going.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Congratulations Fargo Marathon for making your 20x10 goal of 20,000 runners. I hope everyone will achieve their 20x10 goal.

Finding Motivation

Wow. What a Friday. The FargoDome was buzzing all day. I got there before 7 for a breakfast with the people that make up the Fargo Marathon Committee. What an impressive group. Focused, dedicated and determined.

The expo was busy all day. I was at the Q and A table most of the day up until the 5k. It was so fun to see some of the people I have met via the blog face to face for the first time. I hope your event today goes well. I am as excited for you as I am for myself.

As I was sitting at the table, Sandy Buttwieler from KFGO was roaming the Fargodome looking for interviews for the radio. One of the marathon committee people said she should interview me and she looked a little puzzled and said "why" and the committee member said, "cause he's the guy who sat out in the parking lot, smoking a cigarette, eating a doughnut,, watching the first ever Fargo Marathon and now he runs from Grand Forks before the marathon". Sandy said she remembered the story from 2 years ago and started quizzing me for a few more details about the story. Sandy must be pretty good at asking questions because before it was over, she had me in tears. Not from laughing, but from all of the emotions it brought up that I sometimes push back down. Don't want to show any weakness you know. But you know what, I'm a softy. I guess I'm better off just admitting that and going with it. She really roughed me up, but when it was all over I felt relieved and surprisingly refocused. She asked me what my brother Gene would say to me about what I was doing if he were still here and I said he'd say "Keep going, go further". I had never really thought of that befor., I had only ever hoped that what I was doing would meet his approval. I'm trying to use our situation to make a difference in someone else's life and I think he would approve. I know he wouldn't approve of me stopping now. So I will keep going and I will go further.

Then it was out the to 5k at 6:30 to watch my Mom(76), wife(?) and sister-in-law(?). Crowd was enormous. It took nearly 10 minutes for everyone to clear the start line. Waiting for them to come in I stood all by myself on the corner of University and 17th ave. It was just like 5 years ago when I sat about 100 yards away and watched the runners come by - except this time there was not a cigarette but a bottle of water in my hand. I was totally blown away and I was reminded again of why I am here and why I am doing this. Short, tall, fat, skinny, old, young, physically fit, physically challenged, sighted, sightless. All with one common denominator. No quit. I stood there in tears. I found my motivation for today's run. Thanks Mom.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Kids Race

I'm running Fargo on Saturday. Are you? If you are, I'm wondering why.

Seems like every kid in town was running last night at the kids race. Kristy and I along with the girls (Becky and Liz) volunteered for traffic control at the event. I can not believe the number of kids participating. The first wave that came at us, as we were at the turn around point, was the kids 6 and under. What kid wants to go out and run for a 1/2 mile? Seems like when I was a kid under 6 years old I was having my Dad give me a piggy back ride from the basement to upstairs. I didn't want to walk it much less run it.

Maybe all of this marathon stuff is catching on. Maybe Mom and Dad aren't runners though they see something good in it and they are trying to instill it in their kids? If so, I think we have the Fargo Marathon to thank. You see so many people outside running these days and I'm sure they are not all training for the marathon. They see what's going on around them and just instinctively know it is for good. And that is something good.

It was so inspiring to watch these kids running their hearts out and thinking that they probably have no idea why they are doing it. Mom and Dad want me to do it, and I get a medal. For kid, that is true Joy. I am so fortunate to be able to be a part of this. Nights like last night is what helps keeps me going.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Making Adjustments

Nearly all of my running friends can't stop talking about the forecasted temps for this Saturday's Fargo Marathon. If the predicted temps hold true, it will be a difficult day for runners hoping to have a personal best as the conditions may not allow.

In 2007 I had my sights on a fast Twin Cites Marathon. When the starting gun sounded, it was 72 degrees and 87% humidity. Not good. I was optimistic that the humidity would burn off so I held my pace. I could tell within 2 miles that my body was saying this was not going to happen. I saw some clouds and thought maybe it would rain and cool things down. I maintained my pace. 9 o'clock and it was 74 and 82%. About the same. Holding on. At the halfway point it was 76 degrees and 80% humidity. I finally admitted to myself what I knew at mile 2. I had to slow down. Like most runners, the weather added about 30 minutes to my finish time. That is for those who finished. A lot either ended up in the medical tent or carted off to the hospital. My nephew ran the 10 mile event that same morning and when he staggered across the finish line, he said he felt as though he was being beamed aboard the Star Ship Enterprise. After hearing all the stories about how many people needed attention and couldn't finish, I felt fortunate that I had kept myself healthy and a little embarrassed that I was pouting about not being able to run my fastest time ever.

The memories of that most difficult event won't soon go away. Ever since then, I think I have taken a much different approach. No one event will be the "be all, end all" as there will always be another event. I'm in this for the long haul, so I refuse to put a lot of weight on one single event. In some of the longer events I run, most of which are being run on difficult terrain, you need to constantly make adjustments as you go. You learn to take only what the trail will give you. Misjudgements usually put you on your face. If it does, you learn your lesson, adjust to the conditions and move on. The key is making the adjustments before you end up on your face.

So on Saturday, take what the weather will give you and do what you have to do to keep yourself out of the medical tent or the back of an ambulance. There will be another race day. This is such a wonderful event for this community. The volunteers and spectators who have braved the ugly weather for these past years deserve a year of warm temps and sunshine. Make your adjustments accordingly and if a personal best is not in the cards for you, just enjoy the day.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rachel and Maggie

I have to get a shout out to Ultra Friends Rachel and Maggie who this past weekend took on the beast known as the Superior Hiking Trail. The 50K (31 miles) event, as well as the week leading up to the event, tested them both physically and mentally and they both passed with flying colors. Their positive, can do attitude is something I truly admire. They're also both a little wacky. Positive attitude and wacky. Yep. That pretty much sums up an ultra runner.

See more of their adventure here. Video at the bottom.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Marathon Week

Marathon week. What an exciting time. For the runners, it can be the best week of their lives or the worst. Most have already decided what it will be. Some are sad that their Saturday group long runs are over and will savour the week and upcoming marathon events and some are glad that after next weekend, they'll have their Saturday mornings back or in other words they will be glad to "get it over with". Golfing, fishing or sleeping in will be back on the calendar. For me, not much changes. I always look forward to the Saturday group runs and when they are over, I look forward to the solitude. Kind of like living in North Dakota where the winters make you appreciate the summer.

Speaking of summer, it looks like we will have summer weather for next weekend. I'm glad for the spectators and volunteers though I'm certain it does cause some concern among the event organizers as most runners are not yet acclimated to running in warmer temps. If you are a runner, remember as always, hydrate early and often. You may have to scale back your marathon goals. That's just the way it goes. The bottom line is that there are few runners who can perform at their peak in warm weather. More blood moves closer to the skin to help keep your core temperature down and that means less blood flowing through your muscles. Less blood flowing through the muscles means you will slow down. Pushing harder than you've ever pushed before can be expected for marathon day though if it's hot, it might put you in the medical tent. Best save the effort for a better day. Please use good judgement when toeing the line.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Perfect Weather

Another rainy morning run on tap for today. With the marathon festivities to begin just a little more than a week from now, it's hard not to look ahead to see what the weather will be. It would be nice to have a perfect day of 75 degrees for the spectators and volunteers and 55 degrees for the runners. I know that can't happen but we can always hope.

I was thinking how nice that would be as I was sitting at a meeting for marathon volunteers earlier this week as race director, Mark Knutson, along with Dave Boe from the Fargo Police department, were going through all of the safety issues regarding traffic control during the marathon. It really hit me then that what makes this marathon so special is these people. It's not the people running the course, it's the people lining the course - the spectators and volunteers that are cheering and keeping the runners safe. We need each other. No runners, no traffic control needed. No traffic control, no runners. So as much as I would like 50-55 degrees for myself, I'll take a warmer day for the sake of the volunteers and spectators. They deserve it.

Like I said, just a little over a week to go before it all gets started. Are you involved? If not, I would encourage you to volunteer for something. A couple hours of standing at an intersection doing traffic control gives you a front row seat to all of the action. You can see all of the runners from the elite to the turtles. Otherwise, there are volunteer needs before the events begin for things like medal preparation and packet stuffing. Check out the marathon website for more info. Be careful though, most people will only volunteer for a year or two and then they will be running in one of the events!

Speaking of running the events, there are 17,500 runners signed up so far. If you are not volunteering, you should participate in one of the running events. Not a runner? That's OK. The 5k on Friday night is perfectly suited for walkers. Some experienced walkers will even tackle the half marathon. The event organizers are hoping to get 20,000 participants in this year's marathon events. Let's do what we can to make this happen. If you are a runner already signed up, get one other person to sign up and we'll be there.

It takes a village to make some things work... or in this case, a community of runners, volunteers and spectators! I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bang For Your Buck

The Fargo Marathon was voted the #8 overall best marathon and the #1 best value marathon in all of the United States this past December in Runners World magazine. We are fortunate to have such a quality event right at our doorstep.

As myself and nearly 20 thousand other people get ready for the upcoming Fargo event, some of my Ultra Friends headed out of town for their first 50 mile event. Tim and Joel set out last Friday for the Kettle Moraine Forrest near Madison Wisconsin to take on the Ice Age Trail 50.

Arriving in WI late Friday night, they got little sleep in preparation for the 6 a.m. start of the event. The weather was much like we have here in Fargo. Unpredictable. They said everything was throw at them except snow and locust. Weather like that can bring the heartiest of runners to their knees especially when you are expected to be out in it for 11-12 hours. Well the good news is they both persevered through it all and finished the event within the 12 hour time limit. Not without some drama as Joel finished with just over 4 minutes to spare. Back home now, both a bit battered but richer for the experience. One thing nice about an Ultra is that you usually get your moneys worth.

I added the elevation profile of the Ice Age course. Though this event is not considered one of the more difficult as far as elevation goes, take a look at it (click to enlarge) and see how it compares to the flatness of Fargo. This is tame compared to the beast Joel and Tim will tackle this fall. Joel has signed up for one of the toughest 100 mile events on the planet in the Wasatch 100 in Utah. Tim will be running with him as a pacer which are allowed after about 40 miles. Besides reaching an altitude of over 10,000 feet, the elevation gain/loss is almost 27,000 feet. That is 5 miles of uphill and 5 miles of downhill. Now that's getting your moneys worth.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Staying Focused

With this past weekends long run of 15 miles, I was surprised to hear of a lot of people, besides myself, having a hard time with it. You'd think by now we'd be used to it and 15 being 7 miles less than the week before should be a piece of cake, right? But here is the reality. It's 15 miles. 15 miles can not and should not be taken lightly. 15 miles is a long way to drive much less go out and run just for the "fun" of it. I don't think we were all truly struggling with the difficulty of it so much as the surprise and a little disappointment that it wasn't much easier. We are on a taper now aren't things supposed to be easy? Not really. I guess it is how you look at it. Tapering is a cut back in the miles and time on your feet to give your body the time it needs to fully repair itself. The intensity should still be there to keep you sharp. You need to keep your focus. I was achy and kind of lazy all last week for some reason and Saturdays run was a wake up call to me that there is much work to be done before marathon day less than 2 weeks away. Be smart with your training miles.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Marathon Inspiration

I bumped into Kathleen Wrigley during my long run on this past Saturday. She looked like she was having a good time with her dedicated group of running partners and told me she was doing 21 miles with 21 days to go before the marathon. What an inspiration.

If you don't know Kathleen and her story, check out her blog and catch her speaking at the Pasta feed Friday evening before the marathon. Also speaking at the pasta feed will be Ultramarathon Man Dean Karnazes. If you don't know his story, pick up his book "Ultramarathon Man" or go to the Fargo Marathon website where you can link to both Kathleen's blog and Deans website. These are two people I look to for motivation and inspiration to keep going and to go further. How fortunate we are to have them both speaking at this years Fargo Marathon.


The longest week of the training schedule is over and we've seemed to have come through it OK. A little soreness and a twinge of pain here and there but nothing uncommon to most runners. With just a little over 2 weeks to go before the big day, the endurance part of the training is over and now we focus on maintaining our fitness as we let our bodies recover from the 15 weeks of mileage buildup.

Jon has some knee pain and Jodi a sore hamstring though both are confident of their recovery and are undaunted by these minor setbacks. Jon and I had a very successful run on Saturday completing 22 miles with mile 22 being our fastest. Jodi and I had a good run on Sunday for her final long, long run so we all seem like we are well on our way to achieving our marathon goals.

With the weekly mileage going back down the body will begin to fully repair which can cause some mysterious pains and some concern. That is part of the process I guess that takes some getting used to. Identifying what is just pain and what is an actual injury. Most of what you get during taper is just some annoying pain. When the body is given a chance to heal all of the stressed muscles and tendons, they begin to push and pull on parts and places that usually don't get pushed and pulled on. These pains usually don't last long so take a deep breath and they will soon be gone. Your body does and incredible job of adapting to the stresses of running. It makes we wonder what our limits are.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Dangerous Mind

The marathon training program the Saturday morning group I run with is using has this being a peak week as far as mileage and our longest long run of the 18 weeks. This Saturdays run will be 22 miles. Most of the runners have touched the 20 mile mark but this week will prove to be a tough one. Both physically and mentally. Though it is rare that any particular run goes perfectly, many will weigh their marathon training success on this longest of long runs. My suggestion would be to do that only if it is a successful run. If it goes bad, as runs sometimes do, learn your lesson and move on. To do any differently would be to ignore the dozens of successful runs you have accomplished to this point. This is just one run. Important? Sure. One to measure your over all success or failure? Absolutely not. With 3 weeks left after this weekends run there is still time to figure out and correct some training mistakes. Just because the training mileage backs off over the next 3 weeks doesn't mean your not still in training. Much to be gained or lost in these last 3 weeks. What you can lose is some fitness by not staying on top of things as far as diet, activity level and intensity. What you have to gain is confidence.

If you follow the training plan, you have trained your body to withstand the rigors of covering the 26.2 miles and along with that your mind is becoming familiar with what this is like as well which is both good and bad depending on how you deal with it. There is nothing like basking in an endorphin high after a tough run. The problem is during the run when you are struggling to keep pace and your mind is frequently telling you to stop or slow down. This is called the "I cant's". Don't listen to this. Get rid of these negative thoughts as fast as you can. As they say, go to your happy place. "Can, can, can, can". The more you dwell on your suffering the more it makes you suffer. Just ignore it and it will go away. If it doesn't go away, keep ignoring it. Of course if you are truly injured you must stop.

I believe that running is mostly a mental game. Sure you have to get your body used to pounding the pavement but the bottom line is always that the mind controls the body.

So if you've been sticking with the training plan for the past 14-15 weeks and whether you have a successful run this Saturday or not, trust that your body is prepared to take on the marathon and that you've earned your spot at the starting line. Now just convince your mind of that.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Added To The Mix

Add 2 more names to the growing list of Ultra runners from the FM area. This past weekend my sister Jodi and fellow Fargoan Jarod completed their first Ultra Marathon down in Bloomington at the Trail Mix event. The weather was nearly perfect for running with the temps in the mid 40's at the start with light wind and a blue sky.

As was the plan, Jodi started out the run very conservative and finished strong in the middle of the pack. The 50K (31 mile) course is set up as 4 - 7.75 mile loops. Her conservative start allowed her to have it in her to make the last lap the fastest of the day. Lap 3 was her slowest by only a couple minutes.
Here is what Jodi had to say about her experience:
"When Rick told me he thought I should run the 50K with him (about two weeks before the event) I had to ask myself, how far is 50K? If a 5K is 3.1 miles, I guess a 50K is 31 miles. Well, that’s only 5 miles more than a marathon…it can’t be that bad, right? So without a lot of thought, I agreed. I put a lot of faith in what Rick has to tell me. He has done all the reading and the research for me so I can be lazy and just ask him. If he thinks running a 50K five weeks before the Fargo marathon is a good plan then I’ll do it.

I’ve only done one other trail run – a 5K in Pelican Rapids. I really kind of hated it as it was hilly and wet. My toe started bleeding, I misread the signs and ended up running in circles for a while. Rick’s wife Kristy was with me and we actually ran a 6K. I forgot about that until the night before the event. I just hoped this wasn’t going to be a repeat of that (X 10.)

What can I say? Running 50K was actually a lot of fun! We saw turkeys, geese, pheasants, squirrels and ducks. We got to run on grass, wood chips, mud, dirt, sticks, sand and asphalt. We ran across prairie, through the woods and around lakes. But even that gets a little boring after about four hours. I have found that most of running is mental. By the last time around (the course was four loops) I was ready to be done. We got to the course at 6:00 a.m. (started at 7:00) and by the time we were done running it was almost 12:30. Six and a half hours of most anything is enough for me! Rick decided to make it fun by harassing me on the last lap. As we’d come up behind people, he’d yell things at me like, “Good Lord – would it kill you to wait until we’re at the top of the hill to speed up?” I would return his fire, making the people around us either laugh or look really uncomfortable. Just what I needed to break up the monotony.
Rounding the corner heading toward the finish line, I saw Kristy waiting for us. Eleven months ago when I ran my first marathon, she was waiting for me just outside the dome. I said the same thing to her this time as I did then, “Kristy, I’m going to do it!” Just before the finish line I waved to my girls, their friend and my nieces. We finished the race in five hours and 21 minutes.
Bucket list….marathon (check)….marathon under 4:00 hours (check)……ultramarathon (check). A big thank you to Rick for helping me reach my goals!"
As I always say, "A problem shared is halved and a joy shared is doubled." Thanks Jodi for sharing with me.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Lessons Learned

So off we were on another Saturday long run. A step back week of 16 miles for the day and Jon and I showed up as confident as ever that this would be a successful day. And as usual, we were nearly the only ones in shorts. With the steady routine of the weekend long runs and other weekly miles, including speed work, Saturday seems kind of like payday for me and sometimes I go into it a bit too casual. I only glance at the map they send out to the group for our prescribed weekly long run route. I'm not going to be in front and will be following nearly everyone else so why would I need a map? Jon is pretty good at memorizing the route but has been known to take a short cut from time to time though we always get our mileage in. Running with a GPS makes in nice in that regard. I always say that the only time you are truly lost is if you care where you are going. Most days I don't care and am just out there running. This day turned out to be a little different.

Leaving the Dick Beardsley Running Company (DBRC) store at 6 a.m. all was well. Since we would be passing a Stop-N-Go on 25th Street, I didn't have to find a bush to take care of business as I usually do being a middle aged male and a morning coffee junkie. Jon kept going as I sprinted into the store only to find the restroom occupied. As I stood there waiting, there was another guy wandering the store in running clothes so I started chatting with him. He told me that he and his female running partner, also his co-worker, are in the same running group as I am and are training for their first marathon. The women's restroom was out of order so his running partner was in the men's room. He mentioned she wasn't feeling very well and he himself was just getting over strep throat. We were 3 miles or so into our run and I wondered how the day was going to go for these two. Would they continue? As the minutes started to tick away I wondered how badly I really needed to use the restroom as Jon was getting further and further ahead of me. When the door opened I felt terrible for this gal as she looked pretty green around the gills. I suspected their day was over, wished them well and headed into the restroom. When I left Stop-N-Go, the two were a half block in front of me, stopped, and she was hunched over in the familiar "I'm going to be sick" position. I cruised by them, again wishing them well, as nobody likes an audience when you're heaving.

Just down the road was the first water stop set up by the DBRC. They refilled my water bottle for me, gave me a gel and I asked them how far Jon was ahead of me. They said about 5 minutes. OK. So as I took off I figured that if I ran about 2 minutes per mile faster than his pace, I'd catch him in 2-3 miles. No sweat. Well, a quarter mile away from the water stop I realized I was mssing something critical to my plan...... I needed to know the route. Which I did not. I had absolutely no clue where to go. The only thing I could do was turn around and hope the guys were still there at the water stop. When I got there, the two runners from Stop-N-Go were there. They knew the route so I tagged along with them. Being the route was an out and back, I knew we'd run into Jon eventually. I felt bad for him as I was pretty certain he'd be running all by himself and probably wondering if I'd been run over by a truck.

The two folks that got me back on track were some seriously tough, committed runners. When I first started running with them, the gal said that although she felt awful, she might as well keep running and gut it out thinking if she went home she'd probably feel just as miserable. They both did a good job of hiding their discomfort as we chatted away about running and life. I have no doubt they have what it takes to get through a marathon.

The pair went out ahead of us as I hooked up again with Jon, filling him in on my whereabouts. I felt foolish for not knowing the route. Jon always knows the route and I have become dependent on that. I should probably study the map a little better but you know how some guys are with maps and directions.

Jon did exceptionally well during this run, both physically and mentally. He gained confidence in the training program put before him and learned he is well on his way to being able to tackle his first full marathon.

As we arrived back at DBRC, the two ahead of us had finished their run and were headed home. They were all smiles and waving to us as they drove by. Their faces showed the joy we get from putting forth a tough physical effort and conquering those demons that tell us to stop because something is too difficult. The lesson learned is that most of us are much more capable than we give ourselves credit for.

As for me, what did I learn? That this is a big part of why I run. To watch people surprise themselves when they exceed their own expectations. Also to appreciate the efforts of others and what it does to contribute to my success.

And, oh ya, next time find a bush.