Sunday, November 6, 2011

Maybe A Regret

I do have one regret about how things went down and the choices I made at the Bear. I regret that I didn't carry a camera. One, to show how stunning the scenery is and two, to show you how crazy some of the terrain is.

I've run some hilly courses but none like this one. I don't think there was 1 mile that was flat. Either up so steep you couldn't run it, or so steep downhill that my knees wouldn't take it. But it was beautiful.

It was such a treat just to be there and I tried to soak up as much as I could though after hours and hours of rugged terrain, a couple miles on gravel is a welcome treat.

All too soon it would become treacherous again. There were many times I said to myself, "Really". "This is what we are suppose to be running on"?

Imagine running on this after being on your feet for 20 hours, in the dark with your headlamp fading.

It was awesome. Can't wait to do it again.


A week after the Bear I ran the Twin Cities Marathon. I had signed up for Twin Cities event before I decided to do the Bear. Knowing they were a week apart, I figured I would just let the TC event go. My recovery from the Bear seemed to be going well so I decided to drive down to the cities Saturday night and run the marathon at an easy pace. Not often do I get a fully supported 26 mile training run so I thought I'd go down and have some fun. I was looking forward to running and not having to carry 5 hours worth of food and water.

All was well until the half way point when I slowed down to take off some clothes that I would be handing off to my sister Judy who lives in MPLS. When I slowed, I started limping and couldn't get running again. It took me about 3/4 of a mile to get back up to a jog. When I did see her I said I couldn't stop and took off my sleeves and tossed them to her. I kept plodding away the last half trying to enjoy it. The course is so nice as well as the spectators it was easy to keep a smile on my face though it was by far the most pain I have ever experienced in a 26.2 mile event. I've had to work harder at some, but this one was just painful. I was fearful what it would be like after I crossed the finish line and stopped running. I felt a cramp coming on the last 1/3 of a mile and had to focus for all I was worth to keep from looking like "that guy". You know, the one that barely limps across the finish line.

It felt wonderful to finish this one and I was so glad I toughed it out. The refueling afterwards and the bus ride back to the dome were pleasant. And then to my sisters for some Tortilla soup before heading home capped off a very memorable, gut wrenching, most rewarding 26.2 mile day so far.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Post Bear Week

A week later, though some thoughts of regret have crept in, I still believe I made the right call at the Bear. I stopped at 4:40 a.m. and had I gone on to the next aid station I would have made it to daylight where you usually get a boost. I could have pushed for one more stretch though that wouldn't have changed anything. The reason I stopped was that with such severe downhills, they were pounding my normally strong knees into submission and I was going downhill at 1.5 miles an hour and slower. And it was painful. My thought turned more so to the long term well being of my knees. With becoming more fatigued and 38 miles to go, I figured I was fortunate to get to 100k with out injury so I should count my blessings, curse the osteoarthritis the doctor says I have and move on.

A week later, my body feels good. I feel stronger than I did before the Bear. My big toes are still kind of numb and it looks like I'll loose the toenails again but that's just par for the course. Things feel well enough that I think I will put in a long run tomorrow morning.

People have the misconception that I like torturing myself though that is just not the case. I don't like torturing and abusing my body. I like testing myself. To see what I am made of. Who I am. I can take so many positive things out of my failure to finish at the Bear that to me is priceless. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. More to come on the Bear.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

No Regrets

When I made the decision to run the Bear, I knew I would need to be in very good shape just to be able to finish. Starting the Bear, I gave myself about a 50% chance of finishing considering the condition my knees were in and being about 15lbs over my "race weight". Call me selfish, but the entry fee was paid, the hotel reservations and plane tickets were bought so I though what the heck. We were going to be here anyway and though Kristy and I could have volunteered, I would have had regret that I did not even try to tackle the Bear.

What got me was the downhills. I absolutely could not run them. They were so steep that the pain it caused through my knees just wouldn't allow it. I could run where it was relatively flat but that was about it. There is not much flat on this course. I don't mind running uphill though these uphills were so steep that most were un-runnable.

The Bear starts and goes steep uphill for 12 miles and then a steep downhill for 8. Once we started downhill, people were flying by me like I was standing still. I was tip toeing down the runnable downhills. Several people even stopped and asked me if I was alright. 12 miles in and I'm already limping for 8 miles going downhill. With 80 more miles to go and knowing that the terrain wouldn't get much better, I knew I would have to take it one mile or even one step at a time. For the next 50 miles I tried to run the downhills but it just wasn't going to happen. The last 10 miles I did, 52-62, I made the decision to stop as my downhill pace was down to nearly 1 mile per hour making an official finish unlikely.

Kristy and I both had a very good time and are looking forward to coming back again. If not just for the beauty of it, so I can run the Bear in sub 30.

Headed back to Fargo now. More to come on the Bear.......

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I pulled the plug at

I pulled the plug at 4:30 this morning. I'll post details later.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ready To Go

Less than 2 hours to go and I'll be on the trail. It is disappointing that I won't be able to do any posting during the event as there is zero cell coverage. The local Ham Radio operators take care of the communication during the event and will be relaying information as to when runners come in and out of aid stations and that info will be updated in real time to the website. I'll have the Spot device on as well.

I just realized that the Bison/Gopher game will be over before I finish on Saturday. Bummer. Go Bison.

I best be getting ready to go.

This event has a 36 hour cut off to complete the course and I intend to use all of it. I know my weakened, aging body is not ready for this, but my heart is.

See you on the other side of the mountains at Bear Lake.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tracking and Maps

The Bear 100 (Logan to Bear Lake) starts Friday morning at 6:00 a.m. mountain time and I will have the tracking on so you can follow along and see my progress. I've included links to some maps to see the course as it won't show up on the tracking map. The large map of the entire course is best viewed outside of a browser where you can size it appropriately.

Scouting The Bear

Kristy and I spent yesterday(Wednesday) driving the route that she will take as my crew during the Bear 100. Though she has spent a couple years in the Logan area, we traveled some roads yesterday that I'm certain the locals don't even know exist. The course I will be on is rated 4/4 on a scale of 1-5 for terrain/surface. The roads we drove on were probably 5/5. We even had the rental car car airborne a time or two.

It was a joy to be in the mountains though I have to admit they are quite intimidating. I guess it wouldn't be normal for me if at some point before an event I didn't have my, "What have I gotten myself into?" moment. The fall colors are coming out, the trail is rugged and steep (26,000 feet), the water is flowing (several stream and 1 river crossing means getting wet), so I guess I'll go with, Beautifully Brutal to describe the course. I feel fortunate just to be here much less be able to participate. Pictures just don't do places like this justice. You have to see it.

Though my training for The Bear has been compromised by the weakness in the knee thing I have, I truly believe that I will be able to complete it. My body may not be ready but I know my heart is. Like my friend Maggie texted to me yesterday, at least it won't be 41 below. More later.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bismarck and the Bear

Had a fun time as part of a relay team this past Saturday in Bismarck. It was the 3rd time I've done this and though I really can't put my finger on why, I just can't get over how much fun it is to be part of a relay team. I only hope my team members choose to keep Kristy and I on their team as we seem to be the ones causing issues. Jon and Erin, every year, have put out hard, consistent efforts while Kristy and I have both been "caught with our pants down". Literally. We've cut the course and not been ready on most of our exchanges. Maybe they'll give us a chance to redeem ourselves next year or bring us along again form comic relief. You can read more about it on "Jon's Many Adventures" blog under my favorite links.

The Bear

Wednesday morning Kristy and I will be heading out to Logan Utah for the Bear 100. Though my training has been severely compromised by what ever attacked my knees this summer, I'm definitely feeling more and more confident every day. I'm not even close to 100% but I think if I can't prevent any missteps so I don't twist anything I believe I can make it. At this point I'd say it is a coin flip. Only time will tell though I am excited to get going.

I'll have the tracking on so you can follow my progress. It starts on the east side of Logan and ends at Bear Lake which is actually in Idaho. Kristy has spent some time in this area when she went to school in Logan and says that Bear Lake is the "Bluest" lake I will ever see. I can't wait to get started.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Labor Day Weekend

Training for my upcoming event has been slow. I'm trying hard to stay away from injury caused by ramping up the mileage too fast though it has prevented me from putting very many miles on at all. I feel like I could go for many many miles but that is not reality. It's just not there right now. I've had things turn around fairly quickly in the past so I am still optimistic that the Bear 100 will be a running event for me and not a volunteering event. I'm not too concerned either way as Kristy and I are really looking forward to getting out to the mountains so we'll enjoy our time out there whether I'm running or not. The volunteering is actually kind of appealing to me coming of off Ben's trek across North Dakota. It was difficult to stay focused on Ben's needs for such a long time when I was so tired I could hardly stay awake. There were many times when I wished I were running instead of crewing as I thought that may be easier. I know that is not true. It was just a low point. I really enjoyed seeing him succeeding at his event regardless of my whining about my tiredness.

Ben seems to be doing fine since crossing ND. He's back at school and the body is healing. It will be fun to hook up with him again and hear some of what he has been reflecting on since completing his monster ultra. I hope to have him write up a bit of what was going on in his head as he was crossing the state, or what gave him the idea in the first place.

For now, it's off to the cabin for the Labor Day Weekend. I'll hopefully get some miles on the trails as I'm in bad need of some runs on uneven and elevated terrain. Hard to get that here in town. Maybe a trip out to the Grasslands next week.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Run Across North Dakota

I've had a day to ponder the many events the happened over Ben's 360+ mile journey. I can't wait to share some of the stories with you.

The most amazing story though is Ben himself. Getting to see, first hand, someone stripped down to nothing and watch them fight through it, rebuilding themselves, is something very special. You get to see the real them and what makes them tick. I feel fortunate to have been able to have a front row seat. I don't like to see people hurting though I know in these events it is inevitable. I'll give no sympathy, only compassion. I saw Ben in extreme pain though he really didn't complain. We addressed the issues he was having, knowing we could fix them only so well and move on. I watched Ben face his fears and take them head on. Fear of injury. Dark lonely nights. Fear of failure. Wondering if he'd made a bad decision in doing this in the first place. When there was doubt, he worked through it like a seasoned veteran. Truly amazing for someone in his twenty's much less only 20.

You're not born, of course, with the level of maturity that Ben has. It is learned. Though I did get to meet his father, our time together was brief. I'm certain Ben's maturity comes from an upbringing in a family that today is growing increasingly rare. A family connected to one another and that loves and respects one another. Ben's Dad is his Dad. Not his best friend. Ben and his Dad have an admiration for one another that is truly special. They are each others biggest fan and that is awesome. Ben's Mom is still his Mom. She would call and express her concern as she was worried about her little boy. She would call his cell phone more times than Ben wanted her to. He felt guilty for not getting back to her. As maybe he should have. He had a childish smirk on his face when he asked his Dad to do something to calm her fears. Once in a while a quick call would settle her but only for a short time and the phone would ring again. That's just how mothers are. Ben loves him Mom and that's cool.

In a sport mostly populated by older people like myself, Ben is a breath of fresh air. My hope is for Ben to be an example to our younger generation that it's OK to look for happiness in places other than a pill, bottle or another persons arms. What running can provide is an understanding of who we are and that we are much better and more capable of what we thought we were. Ben and I chatted about how we both dislike running though we like what it gets us. Ben has been taught to not take the easy way out of difficult situations. Only a week before he started running from Beach was when he decided to do it. He couldn't think of a reason not to do it. He felt a calling to do something to help out his devastated community, he's good at long distance running, and he had a week before school started. He could have done nothing which is what most do, but that wouldn't be Ben.

You may call it youthful exuberance, recklessness or self destruction, but I know Ben well enough to know of his determination and commitment and I wanted to see him succeed. Was I certain he would succeed? No. But I was willing to do all I could to see to it that he did, and like I said, I'm fortunate to have had a front row seat. Can wait to see what he'll do next.

Sunday, August 21, 2011



On the home stretch

On the home stretch

One turn to go

One turn to go

Two more turns and this

Two more turns and this one is in the books

Ben should be hitting main

Ben should be hitting main ave and 25th St at about 9:25

Ben is on target for

Ben is on target for a 10 O'clock finish @ the main avenue bridge. Come out and congratulate Ben on this monumental achievement.

Red River here we come.

Red River here we come. See you @ 10. We're on our way.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

One more town to pass

One more town to pass through before Fargo. Should be in Mapleton shortly after midnight. Finish tomorrow, 10 a.m. on the main ave bridge.

One more marathon to go.

One more marathon to go. We'll keep moving for a couple more hours. Then so rest and on to the finish.

In about 10 Minutes Ben's

In about 10 Minutes Ben's adventure will be 90% complete with 36 long miles to go.

Ben is taking a nap

Ben is taking a nap for a couple hours. We had to change course again because of water over the road. Only two extra miles.

Ben is working hard today

Ben is working hard today with the hope of finishing before noon tomorrow. Only slept an hour and a half last night. Says he's tired. Ya think?

The power of FaceBook I can't get him to move.

Another very frustrating evening. Road

Another very frustrating evening. Road closure after road closure. I think ND will soon have as many lakes as MN.

Friday, August 19, 2011

It's been a productive day.

It's been a productive day. Ben is going to rest until 1 and then get back at it. 70 to go.

It begins again

Grilled Cheese and tomato soup

Grilled Cheese and tomato soup on the menu again in the Ultra Kitchen. And he's on the road again.

Getting on the east side

Getting on the east side of Jamestown has been a huge boost for Ben. He is in good spirits after some pretty low spots. Less than 90 to go.

Ben got in a well

Ben got in a well deserved nap. He'll be on the road shortly.

Almost through Jamestown. Going strong.

Almost through Jamestown. Going strong. Less than 100 to go.

It is so wet the birds have nowhere dry to land.

As of 11:30, Ben is

As of 11:30, Ben is 10-12 miles outside of Jamestown. It has been really tough finding roads that are not under water. Been scrambling since 4

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ultras have their ups and

Ultras have their ups and downs. We're down right now. After a bite to eat, Ben's stomach was upset and slowing him down. Gonna sleep for 30

A guy chatted with Ben for half an hour and gave him this giant can of sweet tea. Ben said it was delicious.

On a road outside of

On a road outside of Dawson, a lady drove up and handed Ben a piece of paper with her name on it and some $ . Not a solicitation. A donation.

Hour and a half of

Hour and a half of sleep. It has clouded over and I hear some rumbling. Hope it is nothing major.

Ben is going to take

Ben is going to take a nap during the hottest part of the day. The last 24 hours have been productive. About 75 miles.

Much flatter terrain today. Makes

Much flatter terrain today. Makes me realize how hard Ben worked yesterday.

Ben is working like a

Ben is working like a dog. It is amazing to watch. I hope the word is getting out about his adventure.

Last Sunday I noticed the

Last Sunday I noticed the starter was getting weak on the RV so I brought one with. Guess what I just did.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ben is refreshed and ready

Ben is refreshed and ready to go all night. I need a coffee I V

Slowing down some. Going to

Slowing down some. Going to stop at nine thirty for an hour to have a bite to eat.

Not certain if you can see the terrain but this aint Fargo.

All is going well. Ben

All is going well. Ben feels good, the weather is nice, and only a couple hundred miles left to go.

Bismarck news station has us stalled in New Salem.

I'm in New Salem waiting

I'm in New Salem waiting for Ben. Should be here in a couple hours. The hours spent digging the crew vehicle out was taxing.

Out of the mud after

Out of the mud after 4 hours. Darn google maps.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The crew van is stuck

The crew van is stuck in the mud. They haven't been able to move in hours and Ben is there with them being that is only means of support.

Glen Ullin

Ben is just a couple miles west of Glen Ullin. He has a radio interview scheduled for 4:20 on KFYR in Bismarck.

100+ miles

Ben is doing very well. Feeling good and cruizing along. Just went through Hebron.


Ben stopped for a bit in Richardton to grab a bite to eat, is back at it now and looking forward to a successful day. The sun is up and spirits are high.


Some rough weather slowed Ben down overnight where he was forced to seek shelter and got a little sleep. It then turned into a beautiful clear night. He's confident that today will be a strong day and excited to get more miles behind him. Passed through Taylor just a bit ago.

Keep passing the word around of Ben's effort and show your support for him and the Minot area.

I'll be heading out to hook up with him late tonight or early tomorrow morning. Not certain what posting to the blog will be like but I may have the tracking device so at least you'll be able to follow us online while you're at work. I hope your boss won't mind.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Run Across North Dakota.

Ben is through Dickinson and feeling good. He stopped for an hours rest around 7:30 or so and is back at it and will go all night. I'll post again in the morning to let you know how he is progressing.

My Long Run And Ben's Even Longer Run

I was able to get a 10 mile run in this weekend so hip hip hooray I am into the double digits. I have 5 weeks to build up to triple digits.

The first mile was truly the worst. Lungs were tight. Felt better every mile. I don't want to say my knees hurt though I'd call them sore when I got to the 7 mile mark. They felt tired but I knew they'd be good for 3 more. The only concern now is my hip. After limping for a few weeks, as my right knee was worse than the left, my gait has changed and has impacted my right hip. Not a big concern though something I will pay attention too. All seems well to keep increasing the mileage. Take that Osteoarthritis. Oh ya, my test results came back for Lyme Disease and it was negative. I guess that means I have Osteoarthritis in my knees according to the doctor who actually wasn't a doctor but a Physicians Assistant. I'll just call my daughter for advice next time as she has more training than a PA.

It was a very odd weekend for me. My routine was disrupted by Kristy being out of town. I even forgot to drink coffee one morning. The cats didn't know what to do and just looked lost. She was in Minot with a group from our church helping with the flood recovery. She spent the weekend in various homes hauling out rubble. She says the homes there are devastated. Some have 8 feet of water on the main floor. Not much else you can do but gut it out, dry it out and rebuild.

Speaking of Minot, my friend Ben Clark, 4 weeks after completing the Badwater 135, is from Minot and is trying to raise some funds for the Minot Area Recovery Fund. Knowing he's an Ultra Marathoner, how do you think he is going to do it? You guessed it. An Ultra long run. He is running across the state starting in Beach and finishing in Fargo. He left around noon yesterday, was in Belfield this morning and is still going strong. I will be hooking up with him around mid week and will keep you posted on his progress. Please consider helping out with the Minot Recovery Fund by pitching in a couple bucks. Ben is pretty quiet and didn't do much for press coverage before he headed off on his adventure so if you could,please spread the word.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Going Long

I ran 2.6 miles Wednesday morning and last night at about 6 p.m. I went out for a long run. My goal was to make it 5 miles without having to walk. The knees felt pretty tough for the first mile and then got progressively better and I was able to go 5.2 miles in about 48 minutes. OK guys, I'll do the math for you. That is an average pace of 9:14. It was tough but very encouraging. I even ran a couple of miles in the grass. I think my knees are stronger than I give them credit for though I know one misstep and I'll be set back a couple weeks and that would put running the Bear 100 out of the question. Maybe get into the double digits this weekend.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Couch To 5K

I've been running about every other day and have topped out at 5 miles though not continuous. The knees feel stronger every day. I went to the doctor yesterday and she said it was probably Osteoarthritis. That doesn't make sense to me but then I'm not a doctor. They took a blood sample to test for Lyme Disease just in case. If it comes up negative, I suppose she's right and I'll have something else I'll have to battle with. That's life.

6 weeks from today Kristy and I will be headed off to Utah to run the Bear 100. I've got a lot of catching up to do. My training plan has been looking like my first ever which was a "Couch to 5K plan". 5 minutes of walking with 3 minutes of running and repeat. I did that for about a week and am now up to running 2.5 miles continuous, taking a break and then 2.5 more. I'll ramp it up quite a bit in the next few days and weeks. Probably won't get much more than a 30-40 mile long run in before the Bear. I'm not too concerned as I guess this just adds to the challenge which is why we do this in the first place, right?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Damaged Goods

Yes, it's been a while. It's been an interesting summer so far. Not a lot of running as of late as I've seemed to have done some damage to a knee. I have not run for 2 weeks as of today. My knees had been bothering me a bit since the first of the month. They didn't hurt but just felt weak. I continued to run and all was well with that but when I stopped they would again feel unstable. Then two weeks ago I stepped wrong off a ladder and did some damage. I have been limping around so much that it doesn't even hurt anymore and I'm still limping.

I still don't know for sure what happened but I seem to be getting the strength back. I just hope I didn't do too much damage that it might need repair. There is some thought that it may be some sort of tick borne illness that causes issues with the joints. I pulled a tiny tick off my back that I think had been there for about 2-3 days. Otherwise I have no idea. I'll keep you posted. Going to try put a couple miles on tomorrow a.m.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Taking On The Marathon

I remember my first marathon. Although it was a memorable day, it was hard. Felt like torture. I wasn't ready for the difficulty I experienced from miles 20 to the end and even though I was smiling when I finished, I really never wanted to run again. I heard those same words after the Fargo Marathon this year from a family member who had just run her first ever marathon. I think she said something about burning her shoes which in my family, lighting things on fire is common place and something we thoroughly enjoy but I don't think she meant it that way.

My 18 year old niece, Cassie, who just finished her freshman year at the University of Minnesota, was able to squeeze in marathon training, get through final exams and head back home to Fargo to run the marathon. Not that it wasn't without it struggles. About a month or so before the marathon her Mom (my sister Jodi) and I chatted about Cassie's issues and her marathon effort and I suggested she scrap it. Between her IT Band, Pneumonia and Bronchitis issues at the peak of her training, I just didn't think it would be worth it. Cassie persisted and would report back that the running was going well in that the IT Band "only hurt for 1/2-3/4 of the run" and "The doctor said my left lung was only half full of fluid". OK, now I knew what I was up against and that even though I was discouraging her, this was going to happen. She is definitely a product of both her Mom and her Dad.

I'm always curious to know why people would ever want to run for 26.2 miles so after the marathon I asked her a few questions about what makes her tick.

How is your recovery going?
The day of the Marathon, I was extremely sore. I was limping, stairs were a chore. The next day I was surprisingly less sore. Each day got better. I was working 8 hours a day walking around and climbing ladders so I think being active helped. The only lingering pain I had was in my IT band, which I struggled with throughout training.

Why did you want to run a marathon?
I sometimes still ask myself this question. I joined track as a social event in seventh grade, which eventually led to cross country and a few 5K's. After you ran your first marathon, I was in inspired. Doing something like that had never crossed my mind before, and when it did, it was intoxicating to me. I realized how much respect people have for runners and how much discipline it took. Not knowing if I could ever do something like that made me wanted to try. If anything, it was sheer curiosity. I need a challenge and goal in sight at all times in my life to keep me balanced and humbled. After my mom started doing marathons, as well as her friends and my family, I wanted to be included in the madness. I wanted to feel the feelings that kept these runners coming back to such an intense and challenging event. I knew it must be worth it. I wanted to push myself and learn who I really am when I think I can't take something any longer. Training for and running a marathon has revealed sides of me I may have never seen otherwise.

Did you follow a training plan?
I followed a training plan, yes. Once I got sick with pneumonia though, I had to drop the plan and play it by ear.

What was harder, the training or the event itself harder?
This is such a hard question. Training was hard because I had no one to
push me other than myself. If I didn't want to run, I had no reason not to
because the only thing pushing me was my will power. I think if I had
gotten up to my mileage I had planned in my training, that would've been
harder than the marathon. The crowd, the adrenaline, my mother, everything
kept me going during the marathon. I was challenged in many ways but the
support I received on the day of the marathon made it a lot easier than
when I would go out and run 18 miles with no one to cheer me on.

What was the best part of the marathon?
The best part of the marathon was the worst part of my running. At mile
22-25 I was in a very dark place. I felt so weak that I couldn't sniff the
snot back into my nose, and when I tried to laugh to make it better, it
threw off my breathing. It was the best because it was the most challenged
I've ever felt in my life and if I wanted to, I could have quit. I didn't
have to run a marathon. But it was my choice and I stuck it out. I learned
I can do it, whatever it may be. The marathon also made me realize that I
have some of the best family and friends on the planet. I received so much
support and so many followers throughout my training. It opened my eyes to
how completely fortunate and blessed and capable I am. I am humbled to my

What was the worst part of the marathon?
The worst part of the marathon was when the first thought of "I can't'"
came into my head. I was so scared to not finish that I hyperventilated and
almost stopped myself. The thought that I physically cannot accomplish a
goal of mine is terrifying. I want to have no regrets and finish everything
I start

Was your Mom help or hindrance?
My mother was a huge help. Any questions, concerns, or advice that I
needed, she was able to help. She gave me the most positive thoughts and
complements for my work. She made me feel good and made me know I should
feel proud of myself. During the marathon I did get snappy at her, but she
never quit pulling for me, and pushing for me. She's a good mom and a good
coach. Without her, I do not believe I would have been able to accomplish
this goal.

Did you see any signs along the route that you liked?
I liked a lot of the signs. A couple had a sign that said "Finish b4 the
rapture" and at mile 25 a man was in full grim reaper gear holding a sign
that said "the end is near." Also, I saw one that said "Worst. Parade.
EVER." I love that people can have a sense of humor. It totally captures
the running culture.

Will you do it again?
If you were to ask me that randomly, I would say no. But when I look to my
future, I know there is no way in hell I'm done.

Any thoughts to share with perspective marathoners?
If you're contemplating doing one, do it. Even if it's one and done, that's
great. Running has been one of, if not the most positive influence in my
life. I'm healthier, I'm happier, I can deal with stress and anger so much
better, I've endowed a whole new respect for nature and the human body.
Marathoning has shaped my body and mind and I feel it has put me one step
closer to the human that I want to be.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fargo Marathon 2011

Another Fargo Marathon has come and gone. It's hard to believe that it has been 6 years since I watched the first ever Fargo Marathon and then the following Monday took my first steps as a runner. Though the physical changes have been significant, the mental and spiritual part of it has been much more. It is my hope that all could experience the joy of completing a marathon.

It was fun to watch my running friends participate and complete their first marathon. All of them did very well. As time goes by and the pain of enduring their first marathon fades, they will be able to look back at all of the effort it took to train and then conquer the marathon and truly realize their accomplishment had little to do with running. Running is just the vehicle they used to achieve it. We don't battle with the marathon. We battle with ourselves and the voice inside that tell us, "This is too difficult" and "You can't do this." Overcoming those obstacles is, to me, what running is all about. Well done my friends.

Birthing a Marathon

My wife, Kristy, ran her first ever marathon this past weekend. She emailed her brothers to let them know of her accomplishment. She told them she had good news and bad news about her marathon experience. The good news is she finished. The bad new is that it took her longer than it did from the time when her water broke, went into labor, and to gave birth to twins.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Arrowhead Finishers Trophy

My Arrowhead journey is finally official and complete. I got the engraving in the mail the other day. Kind of makes me wish for snow again. Not.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Recovery Time

It never ceases to amaze me how difficult a 12 mile run can be. Not any 12 mile run but one that is done 2 weeks before a marathon. I think it surprises a lot of people and I have learned not to take it lightly and prepare for this easy, short run just like any other important run.

The group I run with on Saturday picked the pace up quite a bit today compared to our leisurely stroll around town. Some struggled. Some breezed through it. Last week was our last 20 mile run and being just a week after, some have not yet fully recovered. Take heart. You have two whole weeks of recovery to do now and in that time your body will be rebuilding the damage you did these past 16 weeks of torture you've put it through. Although you may not feel it, you'll show up on marathon day the fittest you've ever been holding your head high knowing that you've done all the hard work that goes in to training for the 26.2 miles ahead and have earned your spot on the starting line. Congratulations in getting this far. The battle is almost won.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Taper

Seems to me that when the marathon training cycle called the "Taper" comes around is when I really begin focusing on my marathon goals and start taking things a bit more seriously. Too late some would say though if you have done a few marathons, have a good endurance base and you've kept up on your weekly mileage you should be alright.

I think a lot of runners kind of let their guard down and don't realize the importance of a proper taper and all that it involves. In a nutshell, tapering means backing down on the miles to give your body time to fully recover before marathon day but keeping the mileage up enough that you don't loose any fitness. At this point most are walking a fine line between peak fitness and injury so it is a time to really pay attention to what is going on with your body.

Tapering to me means: Less weekly mileage, better diet, more rest, easier easy runs and harder hard runs. The long runs are shorter but should be done with the same focus and intensity as you did your 15-20 mile runs. If you've included speed work in your training and you've been tapering for a week or so it wouldn't be a bad idea to up the intensity a bit. Again, being very aware of any possible signs of injury.

Keeping your weekly mileage up at this point is foolish if you want peak performance come marathon day just 2 weeks away. Your body needs rest to give it time to repair and rebuild for the 26.2 mile task you have ahead. Your recovery from a 20 mile long run capping a 40 mile week takes much longer than a 3-5 mile tempo run or some intervals so keep them up during the taper and even within a couple days of the event and you'll go into the event knowing you've done all you can to perform your best.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Odds and Ends

I gave my "0 to 100 Miles" speech to a brain injury support group at Sanford Health on Tuesday night. The group meets one a month and is facilitated by my friend Tim who is a Chaplin there. What a neat group of people. As we went around the room introducing ourselves and giving a brief history of what brought each of us there, it reminded me of what I saw when I went to watch the first ever Fargo Marathon before I started running. People of all ages, sizes, shapes, and ability. Some noticeably struggling, some quietly struggling, some frustrated but none with any quit in them. I was blessed for having been invited.

Because I was speaking at the support group, I missed rehearsal for the Lenten drama at church which I have been participating in the past couple years. It felt odd sitting in the audience watching last nights performance instead of being on stage. They did great. Hmmm. They didn't miss me a bit. I wonder why? Oh, I know why. My acting sucks.

My sister Jodi is off to Boston this weekend with her friend Nicole to take on the Boston Marathon on Monday. I paced Jodi to her qualifying effort at the Fargo Marathon last year and Jodi paced Nicole to hers at the Twin Cities Marathon last fall. Don't know if I'll ever make it to Boston with the new qualifying practices they put in place but I've never really had that great of a desire to anyway. Maybe if they offered it in a 50 or 100 mile event I'd put forth the effort. Otherwise, I'll leave it to the speedsters who really want to be there.

My friend Jon will officially become an "Ultra Marathoner" this weekend when he tackles a neat little run in the park down in Bloomington, Minnesota. The Trail Mix 50k which Jodi and I ran last year is just perfect for someones first ultra. Most ultras are hilly. This one is as well but most of it is very "runnable". The footing is good throughout with no rocks or roots to trip you up. Ultra friend Maggie will be running it as well and Jon's wife Erin will be running the 25k. Kristy and I were going to be participating until our daughter Becky got invited to prom which happens to be the same day.

Yesterday I got my little engraving with my name and finishing time to put on my Arrowhead Trophy. My last name was spelled wrong so I threw it in the garbage. Everything is a struggle at Arrowhead. Better luck next year I guess.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rocky Mountain High

As I was putting together some final thoughts on Arrowhead, a couple things caught my attention. A PBS show featuring singer/songwriter John Denver and a new adventure for a British man by the name of Ben Saunders. (See his blog under my favorite links)

It was at the end of a long, tiring day as I was flipping through the channels passing time before I went to sleep. I came across John Denver singing "Rocky Mountain High". Just him and his guitar. I never really cared much for his music as I was a teenager when he was most popular and he just couldn't hold a candle to Meatloaf and Boston. What struck me was his passion as he sang the song I thought was probably a euphemism for smoking pot. Since I have been drug and alcohol free for the past 27 years, I never really paid attention to the song probably because of my bias. As his passion pulled me in to watch him sing, the lyrics started to jump out at me and were striking a familiar cord. Wow. He gets it. He gets what I get. I get what he gets and he wrote a song about it. I downloaded the song and put it on my iPod for my next run. Though the song is about his personal experience, many of the lines will resonate with people who like to be outside enjoying Gods great creation. I encourage you to give it a listen.

A co-worker of mine, knowing my affection for endurance events, told me about a guy who is making a solo trek to the North Pole. I know people have traveled there on foot, ski and dog sled but didn't know if it had been done solo as I know it takes a while. A while being about 40 days or so. That's a long time by yourself and a lot of gear to carry. Well, it has been done and Ben Saunders is out to do it again in record time.

Though it was his adventure that caught my attention, it again was his passion that pulled me in. When I listened to him explain how he rounded the corners of his packages of food to take a little weight off and how he was totally consumed with his preparation, I could see myself and my preparation for Arrowhead. Then, once the event starts, everything changes and as he put it, "There's no place on earth I'd rather be." He gets it and I get what he gets. It's his Rocky Mountain High.

What's yours?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Arrowhead Recap Part 2.

Leaving Gateway, there is about 12 miles to go until the next landmark, trail shelter #3, which I was sure would be abandoned and covered with snow. This can be a real low spot for some and it was for me. A call home lifted my spirits momentarily but right after hanging up, the reality of where I was at and what I was facing sunk in. Cold, dark and alone with many hours to go before seeing sunlight and other people. Little did I know what lay ahead. Coming up on the trail shelter, I could hear voices and could smell a stove. Before my eyes could focus on what I was seeing someone said, "you want a cup of hot chocolate?" Not much thought had to go into my shout of "YES!". I pulled my sled off the trail, unhooked and they handed me a cup and said I could go in the tee pee where it was nice and warm. Now feeling warmed up on the inside, I didn't need the warmth provided by the tee pee. This was just what I needed. And to top it off, the guy that handed me the hot chocolate was none other than Ed Bouffard from Ed's Wilderness Systems and I use Ed's hardware for attaching my sled to my body. It was an honor to get to meet him and show him some of the things I've done with my sled to make it my own.

I probably spent 15-20 minutes standing out in the cold talking with Ed and his partner. I could tell they were getting cold standing around listening to me ramble so I thought it was probably time for me to hit the road. I waved goodbye and they wished me success as I headed off into the dark. My insides were warm from the hot chocolate and I got a warm fuzzy from getting to meet Ed and his crew. What a nice thing for those guys to do.

Now it's 25 or so below at this point, I'm really doing well cruising along the trail headed for the next landmark which would be trail shelter # 4 about 10 miles ahead. My mind was busy thinking about sled stuff since I left the hot chocolate Tee Pee and I was kind of puzzled and again slow to focus on what I saw up ahead in the distance. At first I could see a couple lights and some blinking red LED's - though they looked like they were off the trail a bit. As I got closer, I could see it was a couple of gals that were going to get some sleep as they had their sleeping bags and bivy sacs laid out in the snow. They were in various stages of undress when I came by and I tried not to stare. I did think for a minute I might be hallucinating although that usually doesn't happen until the second night without sleep. As I trotted by, not acknowledging the elephant in the room, one of them said, "I'll bet you never thought you'd see naked ladies out on the trail." "No, I didn't. Have a good sleep." I said and I was off into the darkness again wondering what the heck had just happened.

It was about 2:30 in the morning and -30 when I got to shelter #4. There was a good- sized fire going and a guy trying to thaw out his hydration pack. I sat down by the fire for a bit, not to get warm but to take a load off my feet. The fire did feel good. I tried to strike up a conversation with the frozen hydration pack guy but he shushed me and said people were trying to sleep in the shelter. I was too antsy to just sit there so I decided to press on to Melgeorges which would be about 5 hours away. I wished him well and headed off again into the darkness.

It gets fairly hilly the 15 miles or so leading to the Melgeorges Resort Checkpoint. Some of them are so steep that I pondered how much the bikers must struggle to push their bikes up. I was having a struggle and I have poles I use for assistance. No way the skiers were skiing up these hills but at least they'd have poles to help them.

It dipped down to -35 during the night and right at sunrise I was able to make it to Melgeorges. I felt pretty good checking in at just after 7 a.m. and was looking forward to a little rest before heading out for the second half. My clothes were damp so I got those off and placed them on the heater and threw a pizza in the oven. I didn't dare sleep before the pizza was done as I thought I might not wake up so I continued to get things dried out and reorganized for the second half. Once the pizza was done, all I could think about was sleeping and really wasn't that hungry. I put some clothes in the oven to dry and again didn't dare sleep for fear of burning them so I ate a couple pieces of pizza and re-hydrated myself very well. I was almost all ready to head back out when I realized I hadn't slept at all. I flipped open my cell phone to set an alarm to wake me up and realized that if I don't have cell coverage, I don't have a clock. If I don't have a clock, I don't have an alarm. I set the timer on the stove for 15 minutes and laid on the couch. I was out instantly and sprung to my feet at the buzz of the timer. Within a couple minutes I was out the door and headed back to the trail wishing that I could have had a few more minutes of sleep. I was behind schedule as it was, so that wasn't going to happen. Maybe if I got back on schedule I could nap a bit later on but until then, I'd just have to press on.

My next goal was to make it to the Myrtle Lake trail shelter by 4 o'clock p.m. If I was a little early, I would take a little nap. I made it there by 3:30 so I took out my sleeping bag and bivy sac and laid on top of it in the trail shelter and dozed off for about 15 minutes. When I woke up, I poured myself a cup of coffee that I had made and put in a thermos back at Melgeorges. Laying on my side with the bright sun shining, drinking coffee and eating a frosted strawberry pop tart I thought to myself, " What a life." I was truly enjoying myself for a few moments until it was back to the grind.

2 miles ahead there was a highway crossing. When I got there, my brother John and my friend Karl were there to greet me. Even though I was still riding high from my coffee and pop tart, this was a very welcomed meeting and it really lifted my spirits. 2 years ago they were at this very same spot when they loaded up my sled as I had called it quits. We chatted for a bit and they told me they would see me at the next checkpoint, Crescent Bar, which was over a marathon away. As much as that was a goal of mine to get there, I still had a hurdle I needed to get past and that was the point at which I had quit last year - The Elbow Lake shelter. That was about 10 miles ahead. There would be many hills between here and there that would not just let me pass through. They were there to test me. I felt strong at this point but tried really hard to contain myself and pace myself appropriately. The sun was just going down and I hoped to make Elbow Lake by 9 p.m. Once I left the highway and dropped down onto the trail, I felt the temperature drop dramatically. It was 15 below already so I knew that I was in for another cold night.

Making it to the Elbow Lake shelter at around 9 , I celebrated by having another cup of coffee and a pop tart. There were some people bivied up and I could hear snoring as I quietly sipped my coffee. I thought about sleeping but just couldn't do it. Making it past this hurdle I knew if everything fell apart at this point, at least I could say I was making progress every year. Truthfully, I felt stronger than I did 24 hours before. I finished my cup of coffee and was off to tackle the many, many hills that were before me.

I didn't see anybody for many hours and the endless hills were very taxing. I was definitely at a low point. It was maybe 1:30-2 a.m. and I was exhausted, sleep deprived, delirious and hallucinating though I was still moving forward and making the progress I wanted to. Carles, a young man from Spain and Arrowhead veteran, came up behind me moving much faster than I was. I was looking for a sympathetic ear and whined to him that I was having a hard time staying awake. He said in his broken English that singing was helping him to stay awake. I said "great idea" and pulled out my iPod. He cruised by me and I could hear him singing as he pulled away. Later on when I thanked him for the tip, I found out that he did not mean listening to music on an Ipod as he explained .. "no, no. A Capella." I laughed and said that I couldn't do that as I had more respect for the hibernating bear in the area than that.

Though the distraction of the iPod provided a bit a help, eventually I found myself back down on my knees, leaning my head on my poles with my eyes closed. I would allow myself a minute like this and I'd be back moving again. Crescent Bar was 5 miles away and couldn't come soon enough. I knew I would make it though I was growing impatient and starting to make some bad choices.

I picked up the pace and started sweating more. I stopped to take off the fleece pants that I wear at night when it gets really cold. That didn't help control the sweat much as I had on a barrier pant that doesn't release much moisture. The trick is, don't create much and you don't have to release much. I was creating plenty and it was starting to cause me some trouble which I could sense was starting to get out of control. I took the "barrier" pant off and put the fleece back on. Now I could feel my legs getting cold. I ended up stopping several times trying different configurations of dress until I realized the madness. I stopped once and for all to put everything back on like I had had it for the past 112 miles. I was only 2 miles from the checkpoint and didn't want to freeze this close to sanctuary. I slowed down to stop sweating and just held a steady pace to the checkpoint. Tragedy (hypothermia/frostbite) avoided.

When I got there, Rachel, John and Karl were there to greet me. What a sight. It felt like the finish line. Right at that point was the first time I allowed myself to think about the finish. The hills were behind me. The sun would be up soon and if I was lucky, I'd get to take a little nap before heading back out. The uplift I got from seeing familiar, friendly faces was immeasurable. I surely would have no problem getting through the last 21 miles with no hills.

I enjoyed my time at the Crescent checkpoint talking with Rachel, Karl and John, finding out about other friends and where they were out on the trail. It was disappointing to find out that those friends weren't on the trail at all and had withdrawn at either Gateway or Melgeorges. I wondered what had gone wrong as they seemed to have it all together the last time I saw them.

I ate 3/4 of a pizza, drank 2 0r 3 cups of coffee and a coke, napped for 10-15 minutes and headed back out on the trail. My crew had renewed my spirit, the sun was up and I knew I would not have to endure another night on the trail. All of that was certainly uplifting enough to get me to the finish line. But as usual, fixes like these are temporary and I figured I had at least 6 hours to go. I moved fast for the first 5 or six miles and then slowed down as the sleep monsters started coming after me again. I stopped a few times and laid down on the side of the trail right on the snow closing my eyes for a minute or so. I really don't know if I slept but it seemed to help.

Although the trail is very flat and straight the last 21 miles, it still is interesting and I enjoyed looking around and taking it in. Something you don't get to do in the dark especially on the second night when everything you see off in the woods is kind of creepy. This seemed to pass the time a lot faster than thinking about the finish line and about everything that was hurting. I continued to grind out those last few miles.

Many thoughts went through my head those last 4 or 5 miles before the finish that I'll share another time. Being this was my 3rd attempt at Arrowhead, I had to work very hard to not feel a sense of entitlement. Though everyone was telling me that they knew I'd get it done this year, I knew I didn't "deserve" a finish and I knew I was going to have to work for it just like everyone else. Now that I was within striking distance, I couldn't help but think about those that wouldn't make it and wondered why I was to be so fortunate. It was an emotional moment for me and in my fragile state, I was really starting to feel sad and a little depressed. Then I got a text message from my buddy Jon who I knew was following my progress online. He texted me a phrase his wife hollered at him as encouragement in the last mile of a half marathon which only got her a dirty look from Jon. The text said "Sprint it out" and was all I needed to get me out of my funk. I laughed out loud and chuckled for quite a while after getting his text. The timing couldn't have been better and I actually was able to pick the pace up a bit for the last 3-4 miles.

The last mile of winding trail leading to the finish was never ending. I turned many a corner hoping to see the Arrowhead banner and my crew waiting for me there, but it seemed like it was never going to come. Finally, it did and all of the pain and suffering was gone. I could hardly feel my feet those last 100 yards. Once I reached the finish line, all I could think about was sitting down. Although I had sat down a few times in the last 54 hours, I really couldn't enjoy it. Now I could and for the first time I told myself that I deserved it..... I had finished the Arrowhead 135.

Well, that's the nuts-n-bolts of it. I'll offer some of my observations, thoughts and feelings over next couple days.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Arrowhead Observations

My friend Rachel posted her first hand account of the Arrowhead 135 on her blog.

Star Tribune

Here is a good account of the Arrowhead event from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Arrowhead Recap Part 1

One week after completing Arrowhead I still haven't gathered all my thoughts. Getting my thoughts, much less my head, back together has proven to be the most difficult part of the recovery. Though I may have a physical ding here or there it isn't much different than any other post race recovery for me. An ache here and a pain there comes with the territory and I am pretty close to 50 years old so I guess some of that is to be expected.

The morning of the event I got up after a good night's sleep and did my normal morning routine. My friend Rachel, who was volunteering at one of the checkpoints, swung by to pick me up 30 minutes before the start. Dropping me off the night before I said to her, "see you at 7:30" and she said, "you mean 6:30". "Does it start at 7 or 8?" I said and she reassured me that it was 7. I'm glad I have good people in my life to help watch over me. It would have been most embarrassing walking up to the start and being the only one there.

It was around 15 below at the start which is about what was expected. I was dressed appropriately and ready to start putting some miles behind me. I was able to figure out a way to keep my Garmin Forerunner 305 charged for more than 9 hours so I was able to rely on that to pace me through those important first miles. Sweating being a big deal in an event like this and with all of the excitement, its hard not to work way too hard those first few miles. The Garmin kept me at a pace that would hopefully get me to the first checkpoint at right around 5 pm.

The terrain is not very hilly in these first 35-40 miles so a good combination of running and walking is used. Run easy until I could feel some sweat building and then walk until the clothes felt dry again. I don't know what the high temp was for the day but it couldn't have been much over zero. It was cloudy as well. Of course, as it got late in the day the clouds moved out and you could just feel it in the air that the night was going to be very cold and very dark with a new moon.

Getting to the Gateway General Store, which is used as the first checkpoint, I felt really good. I wasn't very tired, I had been eating and hydrating well and I actually wasn't even very hungry. Last year I remember I was starving when I got there. This year I went in and had 2 hot dogs and a coke, dried my outer layer a bit, chatted with some of the other competitors and I was back out the door. I ended up spending a fair amount of time outside in the parking lot changing the batteries for my lights on the sled. We are required to have red LED's front and back that must be on at all times. Last year, I started out with new batteries and they lasted until I quit which was about 40 hours. I don't even think at that point they were dim. This year, I started out with a new set of "Copper Top" batteries, which I always use, and they didn't even last 10 hours. Of course I brought spares but at this rate, I'd need 10 sets of spares to get me to the finish. And then I started wondering about my headlight that had batteries from the same new pack of "Copper Top" batteries I'd bought for the sled LED"S. How long would I have light? I got everything changed and blinking brightly and we were on our way before 6:30.

It was -10 when I left the checkpoint with a predicted low of -25. Before I left I took a quick glance around the inside of the store at some of the other competitors. Some of which hadn't moved since I got there. I knew they wouldn't be joining me out on the trail and their Arrowhead journey was over. For some it was their first try and for some it was their 2nd or 3rd. I felt a little bad for them as I dashed out the door like a teenager on date night. I really felt great even knowing that I still had nearly 100 miles to go.

After leaving Gateway and settling down into a steady pace, putting 10 or so miles behind me I had a chance to make a phone call. Cell coverage is kind of spotty and I knew Kristy would be headed to bed soon so I called and told her all was well and said good night. That was tough. It was getting colder, darker and hillier. And lonelier. It was going to take me until morning to reach the next checkpoint and with little or no cell coverage there as well, I knew it would be a long time until I'd hear a familiar, friendly voice offering me encouragement. Until then it would be just me, the Arrowhead Trail, and a couple of naked ladies.
To be continued.......................................................................

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Arrowhead Build Up

Here is a good story out of the Mankato Free Press that came out the day before we started. Gives a pretty accurate account of what goes on at Arrowhead.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Thanks For Pulling My Sled

It's taken a couple days but I'm starting to feel somewhat normal again and I'm happy to report that no major injuries have popped up so far. It's been nice to have some down time to reflect.

At the time I crossed the finish line Wednesday afternoon, as much as I wanted to "just get it over with", and besides being really tired, all I felt was humility. I knew before the 56 of us on foot took the starting line that less than half of us would finish. It turned out to be a 35% finish rate. I felt so fortunate to be one of the few people who have attempted Arrowhead on foot to cross the finish line.

Since the first Arrowhead 135, about 170 people have started and 59 times the finish line has been crossed on foot and that is among 42 different people. I know some of the people who have several attempts and no finishes. These are the people I look up to as some of the best ultra runners and toughest people on the planet. I can't help but wonder why I am so fortunate and then I am saddened when I reflect on the series of events that has brought me to this place and time. It's too bad that we have to suffer tragedy before we learn these simple life lessons. It doesn't have to be that way and I hope some of what I do can help people to understand that. I truly believe what I'm doing is for a higher purpose so with my faith along with the love and support I receive from my family and friends, I know that is what carried me through this most difficult event. When you are stripped of all you have you'll quickly figure out what you truly need.

Knowing there were many people back home tracking me via the SPOT Tracking Device, I at first felt like I was carrying them on my back. Almost feeling pressure. When things would get ugly I would think of all those tracking my steps and could feel their encouragement and it would pull me out of my low spot. I relied on that support many many times during the 54 hours it took me to travel the 135 miles. So, those of you that tracked me, prayed for me, read Kristy's updates on the blog and sent me an encouraging text or posting on FaceBook, thank you so much for the support. You were with me all the way.

Stories of the event to follow.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

135 miles in 54 hours 25 minutes

Unofficial time of finish at the Fortune Bay Casino - 1:26 p.m.
Kristy W.

Crescent Bar & Grill

At 5:14 a.m, Rick got to the Crescent Bar & Grill checkpoint. He once again took to the trail at 7:20 a.m and has around 25 miles left to go.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pitch Black with a Definite Bright Spot

9:58 p.m. report. Pitch black - no moon, surrounded by woods. Bright spot - reading on Garmin says 99.53 miles surpassing the mileage mark where Rick ended his Arrowhead journey last year. He took a brief rest at the Elbow Lake shelter, ate a poptart, drank some coffee, rested the feet. Pray for continued strength during the night for Rick, all the other participants and race volunteers.
Now glory be to God, who by His mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of -- infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes. Ephesians 3: 20

"The sun is shining"

Those are the words from Rick. Getting close to mile # 83 and is still plugging along. He will be stopping at the Myrtle Lake shelter for a bit. He wasn't able to get much rest at Melgeorge's as he was drying clothes on the heater and in the oven. Hopefully, he pulled whatever he was drying out of the oven before he put the pizza in!

Halfway point

Rick arrived at Melgeorges Resort (the half way point) this morning around 7:09 a.m. He brought along a Pizza Corner pizza that he was hoping to get a chance to eat while there. I see now from the SPOT tracking that he is back at it again at approximately 10:30 a.m.



Monday, January 31, 2011

"Still Plugging Away"

The reading on the sled thermometer is 19 below as Rick nears the 48 mile mark at 10:33 p.m. Pray that the overnight hours go by quickly for the racers and without incidence. Kristy W.

Eight p.m.

From Rick...
16 below on the thermometer.
Going good.
Hopefully, I will be at Melgeorges by the time everyone heads to work in the morning.

After two hotdogs and a Coke.......

Rick is back at it - leaving the Gateway Store at 6:25 p.m.

Gateway Store

It looks as though Rick made it to the Gateway Store (approx mile 35) at around 5:04 p.m - a place to grab something warm to eat and to get geared up to head out for the first night out on the trail.

I'm not as cold as I look

Call from the trail

Rick called at 1:30 p.m. and reported that he was just reaching the 25 mile mark as per his Garmin. He said that all was well. Temp reading at 5 degrees, cloudy. The trail started out horrible but has gotten better. The trail groomer passed him at around Mile 20.
post by Kristy (Wagar)

Only 16 below. Nice

Only 16 below. Nice

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Calm Before The Storm

Got to I'Falls yesterday afternoon. Gear check went OK but after, when I went to check in at the hotel, they had lost my reservation so I kind of had to scramble. I'm in a remote building from the rest of the hotel and there wasn't a coffee maker in the room so I had to make a trip to Kmart last night to buy one. I'd be in rough shape tomorrow morning without any coffee. The weather for the morning is looking typical for Arrowhead at -20 or so with highs right around zero. I guess it wouldn't be Arrowhead if it wasn't cold. The cold firms up the trail but it's been snowing the past few days and it hasn't been groomed or packed so it will be a bit mushy. Maybe the trail groomer fairy will be out tonight.

Off to a meeting, dinner and then some r&r. Getting anxious to get this thing going.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Check out the Arrowhead website,, for lots of information on the event. They hope to keep the "results" page updated so people back home can see how everyone is doing. You of course can follow my progress by tracking me throughout the event by clicking on "Arrowhead Tracking" on the right hand side of the page.

My wife, Kristy, will post some updates on the blog from time to time to keep you updated on how I'm doing. Cell coverage is pretty spotty and it's hard to push the buttons with gloves on so the contact I'll have will be minimal. If things are going well and I have coverage, I may post something myself from the trail as well. It may not be real pretty so cut me some slack. I'm excited to bring you with me as I head out on the trail and I appreciate your support and encouragement. Knowing I have people with me by following along helps a lot when things aren't going well.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Arrowhead Weather

Looks like the weather for Arrowhead will be typical. Every year at some point during the event it has reached -20. Even at the start three years ago it was 20 above and during the day it got up to 25. Hot by Arrowhead standards and really makes for some awful trail conditions though it would be shorts weather. By Wednesday morning it had dropped to -20. The official low for Cook, MN was -14 though for some reason it is always 8-10 degrees colder on the trial. I suppose being everything is covered with snow there is nothing to absorb the suns energy. Doesn't really matter anyway as I haven't yet found a way to control the weather. Just deal with it. Prepare for the worst but hope for the best.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Arrowhead Round 3

For the past 3 winters I've been really look forward to this time of year. When all we hear about is how cold it is here in Fargo, how slippery the roads are and how many miles we are now putting on our treadmills, I pull out the sled, winter survival gear and head out for an icy run. Arrowhead training.

Twice before I have been fortunate enough to participate in one of the planets most difficult endurance events. The Arrowhead 135 which takes place in northern Minnesota starting out in International Falls. Both times I did not finish.(DNF) Some would say that at Arrowhead, DNF means Did Nothing Fatal. I'd like to think when I decided to pull the plug I wasn't on the verge of dieing but when the body is getting colder and your mind can't figure out what to do about it, it's time to quit before something happens you might regret. Some would say that would be entering Arrowhead in the first place though both times I've DNF'd I was already thinking of what I'd do differently for the next year if they'd have me back.

Next week at this time I'll be resting up in an I'Falls motel room for the 7 a.m. Monday morning start. We'll get 60 hours to cover the course which is the snow covered Arrowhead State Trail. Looks like a record number of entrants this year with about 140 total signed up in the three category's of bike, ski or foot. My first year there was a finish rate of 30% in the foot division and last year it bumped up to 42% so the odds are getting better. I'm looking forward to the challenge.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


With a later than normal start to the 50k part of the Tuscobia Ultra (10 a.m.), Friday night I stayed in a motel outside of Duluth and then would make the 2 hour drive to Park Falls Wisconsin in the morning.

Getting up and looking at the weather, the temps had remained fairly steady overnight around the 8 degree mark and looked to remain there for most of the day on the Tuscobia Trail section I would be running. I don't keep a very good log of my runs as far as the weather and what I wore so I rely mostly on memory for what to wear on specific weather days. I remembered a run I did with a friend on a cold, calm December Saturday morning and what I had worn. I looked up the date from my Garmin data and then looked at the weather almanac for that day. It was a match. The days would be very similar being overcast, relatively calm, and 5-10 degrees so that is how I dressed.

Riding the bus to the starting line I was noticing the dress of the other runners. Most of them looked like the were crossing the Antarctic. I couldn't help but think I was going to be under dressed though I kept going back to my past runs. No, I hadn't run 31 miles that day a year ago but for the 12 miles I did that day the dress was perfect so that's what I was going with. If I got cold I would just have to work harder to create more heat.

Also on the bus I watched a young lady prepare her feet for her 31 mile adventure. She had on 2 pair of winter socks and 3 foot warmers in each shoe. I couldn't help but think she'd be cutting off the circulation but I guess you have to go with what you know. What works for one doesn't always work for another. I wear a single sock ( ) and keep my shoes loose with the thought of keeping the blood flowing. Arrowhead friends will sometimes use the toe warmers though they will put it along the ankle to warm the blood flowing into the foot.

Getting off the bus at the starting line I hoped to see people shedding some of their clothes. It didn't happen. I continued to have doubts about my dress. My drop bag was right there and I could have thrown on another layer as I was shivering but I kept going back to the saying, "Don't let what you don't know affect what you do know". I knew I was dressed right for the day and I was going to stick with it. Too late now anyway as they called out "2 minutes to go" and before you know it, we're off. I think there were 30 starters with 1 on snowshoes and 1 on skis.

The trail was firm and the pack split up quickly. I was running by heart rate so I found my spot and stayed there. Within a couple of miles I saw some of the runners ahead of me taking off their jackets. I wasn't wearing a jacket though at the 5 mile mark I slowed down to take off my outer layer which was a fleece pullover. I was slightly chilled at first though after the sleeves of my shirt dried off I was just right. Carrying my hydration on my back and some calories in my waist pack I put it on cruise and was enjoying the day.

At mile 15 the trail turned kind of mushy. It was difficult and kind of frustrating to find good footing. I think I put an extra mile on going from one side of the trail to the other search for the best spot to run on. In the last half of the event, there wasn't one. That's the way it goes. Just like the weather, you can't control the trail. All you can do is deal with it.

I past 2 guys in the last half. Both expressed their frustrations over the footing and I offered some encouragement as I went by. I was happy to see that they both finished not far behind me.

All in all it was a very good day. It was 6 degrees at the start with a high for the day of 10. Looking back, I guess it was kind of bold of me to take the start without a jacket on though I knew that if I got cold I would have to work harder. I used the cold as my motivation to not slow down and just keep an even effort for the entire 50k which is what I did. I don't know how this success will translate into my Arrowhead effort though I know I have something to build on.