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Saying No to the Devil – Have Fun at Sawtooth

Posted by scott on August 17, 2010

I had fun this Summer with the little devil on my shoulder, who kept telling me that running the Superior Sawtooth 100 mile would be a Great Idea.  I finally decided to tell him no.

L'il Devil

Photo credit: Darwin Bell on flickr (

I had to finally admit that my running has been below even my minimalist standards.  I have done a few decent long runs, and the devil and I even pulled off an epic 18 mile spontaneous barefoot run that was a hoot.  But this turned out to be a Summer full of other types of family fun (like longboarding with the boys), which is just fine.

I agonized for a week or so before finally deciding, and it was a hard choice to make, since Sawtooth is high on my list to complete.  I took a few weeks completely off running after the decision just to let it bake in and stop wondering if it was the right choice.  It definitely is.  I’m glad to have the Zumbro 100 Mile Endurance Run under my belt for the year, that was a great experience and a nice milestone to hit 100.

Fall and Winter are tough times to race for me, as the hockey season gets underway.  It’s fun to think about the  Wild Duluth 100k, or maybe even the Tuscobia 75 mile, but hard to commit at this point.  Maybe I will start puttering with a pulk, and see how it goes.

So have fun at Superior this year, those races are a fantastic time.  Volunteering is a blast if you aren’t in shape for running, its not going to work for me this year.  Best of luck to you if you are running.  Good luck Adam, Susan, John G., John T., Jason, and anyone else who I can’t think of at the moment.  Hope you run safe and have a great time!


Posted in Races | 2 Comments »

Zumbro 100 Mile Endurance Run – Race Report

Posted by scott on April 16, 2010

My race report from the Zumbro 100 Mile Endurance Run is now published under Race Reports.

Go check out the long version with pictures if you want the real scoop:

2010 Zumbro 100 Mile Endurance Run – Race Report

Short Version

This was hands down the most difficult thing I have ever done in my entire life.  Everything I had heard before about 100 miles was true, but I had no idea exactly how it would feel.  It hurt, and I was exhausted.  I finished though, in 30 hours and 49 minutes, and feel an amazing sense of achievement.  The Zumbro Bottoms trails were much tougher than I thought, maybe easier than Superior but not tremendously.  My crew was indispensable to my finish.  What an epic experience.  Finished the day saying “well, I got that out of my system,” but amnesia might be setting in.  Shared trail with some awesome people during the day, notably Susan Donnelly, Rob Apple, and Ryan Carter.

I finished in 30 hours and 49 minutes.

Posted in Races | 2 Comments »

Zumbro 100 in Tweets

Posted by scott on April 16, 2010

I’ve been tweeting more than blogging for awhile, it’s just too accessible and accommodates mild ADHD better. 😉  The Zumbro 100 mile event was the first time I have actually tweeted during a race, so I thought it would be fun to record the Twitter activity for posterity.

These will read in reverse (newest to oldest), because that’s how Twitter displays them and I’m not bothering to invert them.

My Tweets

amazing how much better i feel already after #zumbro100; big change since sat. night. only 2 Alleve yesterday 2:13 PM Apr 12th via web

@crazyrunnerguy sat. night was misery, sunday was rough but improving, today is amazing how much better. legs mainly, stomach fine. thx! 2:10 PM Apr 12th via web in reply to crazyrunnerguy

duh… make that *30* hrs 49 mins for my Zumbro 100 mile finish. brain still gooey from yesterday. felt like 39 though 12:07 PM Apr 11th via web

FINISHED #zumbro100 mile endurance run yesterday in 39 hours 49 minutes! Bad ass race 6:40 AM Apr 11th via TweetDeck

Mile 81 at #zumbro100 – just started last lap! 7:30 AM Apr 10th via TweetDeck

Mile 54 at #zumbro100, beautiful night, stomach settled down. Distance PRs from now on! 9:56 PM Apr 9th via txt

Mile 41 at #zumbro100, still going strong, have Neil and Brian pacing, nice to have company 5:39 PM Apr 9th via txt

Feeling better now, heat earlier was rough. Mile 34. Very uneven trail due to horsetracks and loose rocks #zumbro100 3:44 PM Apr 9th via txt

Loop 1 down, 4 to go at #zumbro100. Mile 21 12:17 PM Apr 9th via txt

Loop 1 going GREAT at #zumbro100. 14 miles, perfect weather 10:30 AM Apr 9th via txt

Got great first timer advice last night from ultra vets Rob Apple and @susanruns100s for #zumbro100. Thanks guys! 5:12 AM Apr 9th via TweetDeck

@dlrustvold will be in New Balance 790s. Want to bag a 100 before trying in VFF, I think. We’ll see what happens tomorrow 7:59 PM Apr 8th via TweetDeck in reply to dlrustvold

Good times chatting by the campfire with @kettlefans and other runners at #zumbro100. Cool peeps! 7:50 PM Apr 8th via txt

weather report for #zumbro100 about 2 mins in, courtesy of Ryan! 7:53 AM Apr 8th via web

37 hours until the start of #zumbro100 – a collage of lists, packing, planning, shopping #running #ultra 5:57 PM Apr 7th via TweetDeck

running away from my shadow this week in anticipation of #zumbro100 – #running #ultra 9:37 AM Apr 6th via web

This time next Saturday I will around mile 88 at #zumbro100 8:34 AM Apr 3rd via TweetDeck

@kettlefans yeah i suppose, i had been hoping my crew could tweet, sounds like i’ll have to carry or skip it. hoping verizon does well 2:12 PM Apr 2nd via web in reply to kettlefans

Pulled trigger on Nathan #020 (thx @roughkat @crazyrunnerguy!) for #zumbro100. Pre-race anxiety is expensive for me #running #ultra 7:23 AM Mar 30th via TweetDeck

debating whether to buy Nathan #020 when i already have CamelBak MULE. are the front pockets worth it? seems like it #running #ultra 3:48 PM Mar 28th via web

shoe goo-ing velcro onto my #shoes for my !! countdown to #zumbro100 #running #ultra 1:52 PM Mar 27th via web

Two more weeks til #zumbro100! Hoping this awesome weather holds, gained one more crew yesterday, very cool 8:29 AM Mar 26th via TweetDeck

@injinji i will be wearing you in the Zumbro 100 mile trail run in few weeks! need to review at 11:39 AM Mar 19th via web

@kettlefans how are the trails down there? i won’t get a recon run in, so totally new territory for me #zumbro100 9:31 AM Mar 19th via web in reply to kettlefans

now on spending spree for zumbro 100 – gaiters, S! caps, blister supplies, Clif products, Injinji socks, various other @REI_CoOp items 7:14 PM Mar 17th via web

32 mile training run last night, testing gear for zumbro. is everyone sore after 32mi? or is it supposed to get easy at some point? #ultra 5:59 PM Mar 16th via web

Four more weeks until Zumbro 100 Mile Endurance Run! 6:33 PM Mar 11th via TweetDeck

Tweets Sent to Me

Thanks to everyone who sent words of encouragement during the race!

crazyrunnerguy    @runlikemonkey How are the legs, stomach, etc?
5:55 PM Apr 11th via web in reply to runlikemonkey

theNeedful    RT @runlikemonkey Wow, amazing accomplishment! You did the needful.
1:01 PM Apr 11th via twitterfeed

squiej2    @runlikemonkey Wow, amazing accomplishment! You did the needful.
12:55 PM Apr 11th via TweetCaster in reply to runlikemonkey

roughkat    @runlikemonkey Congrats! That’s a huge accomplishment.
12:16 PM Apr 11th via TweetDeck in reply to runlikemonkey

UnsvelteAngel    @runlikemonkey congrats 🙂
8:55 AM Apr 11th via Twittelator in reply to runlikemonkey

sanityinc    @runlikemonkey Great job, congrats!
8:41 AM Apr 11th via Tweetie in reply to runlikemonkey

masonham    @runlikemonkey Congratulations!
6:57 AM Apr 11th via twicca in reply to runlikemonkey

DarthHelix    YEAH!!! Go get that 100! RT @runlikemonkey: Mile 81 at #zumbro100 – just started last lap!
11:39 AM Apr 10th via Echofon

SilentSportsEd    @runlikemonkey Stay strong, focused!
7:44 AM Apr 10th via UberTwitter in reply to runlikemonkey

crazyrunnerguy    @runlikemonkey way to go! You’ll make it!
7:33 AM Apr 10th via web

mthyer    @runlikemonkey WOOT for you brother, eat a lime it will be the best fruit you ever tasted.
10:50 PM Apr 9th via Seesmic in reply to runlikemonkey

Run_Bike_Paddle    #ff #follow friday for @runlikemonkey for live updates from the #zumbro100 he’s killing it out there
8:20 PM Apr 9th via web

aReyoUiN    RT Keep it going! @runlikemonkey Mile 41 at #zumbro100, still going strong, have Neil and Brian pacing, nice to have company
5:50 PM Apr 9th via web

mplsxman    @runlikemonkey Loop 1 going GREAT at #zumbro100. 14 miles, perfect weather Hang in there!
4:09 PM Apr 9th via Twitterrific in reply to runlikemonkey

roughkat    @runlikemonkey congrats and good luck on the rest.
2:34 PM Apr 9th via TweetDeck in reply to runlikemonkey

outsideinmi    Good luck @runlikemonkey #run100
11:05 AM Apr 9th via txt

dlrustvold    Run @runlikemonkey! Have fun on your hundred miles. What kind of footwear?
6:07 PM Apr 7th via Tweetie in reply to runlikemonkey

kettlefans    @runlikemonkey I think the only way “tweets” will work down there is if you take your phone in your pack so it can go up on the ridges.
7:26 AM Apr 2nd via web in reply to runlikemonkey

crazyrunnerguy    @runlikemonkey Good decision. You won’t regret it.
10:24 PM Mar 30th via web in reply to runlikemonkey

crazyrunnerguy    @runlikemonkey I have Nathan #020 vest and it is fantastic. Pockets are great and carries well.
5:00 PM Mar 28th via web

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What Matt Said

Posted by scott on April 6, 2010

Ditto what Matt said about race week and the shadow.  This line in particular – the mind and body starts playing tricks on you. All insecurities come to the forefront.  Too true.

The Shadow

Photo courtesy of stuant63 on flickr

I generally feel confident about my training, even though its not a traditional approach.  I sure enjoy it, anyways.  But that goes out the window about 2 weeks ahead of an ultra, especially this time around.

I make the mistake of reading what everyone else has done that’s so different from what I have done and it sinks in.  I keep thinking that I should have done more, should have done different.  Those insecurities take deep root, and I try fight them off with the more accurate rationalizations:  there is no playbook for ultra training; what works for one can ruin another; I trained in a way that matches our overall family lifestyle, and addressed the things I think are most critical for me.  Like another commenter on Matt’s blog said – the hay is already in the barn.

One of my favorite race reports ever was Julie Berg’s 2008 Javelina Jundred report.  It contains the best single piece of ultra advice I have heard:  Quit thinking about the problem and begin to think about the solution. That is my race strategy in a nutshell.  For everything that seems to go “wrong” I remind myself of something that is going great, and stay positive.

No matter what, the Zumbro 100 Mile Endurance Run will be a blast.  I have an awesome crew.  It might be a training run for Superior 100.  It might be my first 100 finish.  My optimistic son even asked “what happens if you win?”  Not too worried about that. 😉  Either way, I will have learned something new by Saturday afternoon.

Posted in Races | 5 Comments »

Zumbro Countdown

Posted by scott on March 29, 2010

The training is essentially done, and the countdown is on – less than two weeks until the Zumbro 100 Mile Endurance Run!

This will be another experiment race for me to see if less overall mileage supplement with quad-intenstive cross training can actually get me through a race like this.  I was amazingly undertrained for the Superior 50 mile last year and had a great run and a great experience.  My base goal is to finish Zumbro in whatever time it takes, and have a great experience again no matter what happens.

I have a great crew assembled, so that shouldn’t be too hard.  They are solid runners in their own right, but also just up for a good time.  Some don’t know each other, so here is how I introduced them to each other:

Brian – the fast one, can’t seem to do anything but obsess on a sub-3 hour marathon.  He is getting wise and hitting the trails with us in Zumbro, maybe it will stick?

Tim – can’t decide if he’s fast or likes trails, but I need to be polite since he was my first committed pacer/crew and seems to be up for anythign I throw at him.  Ran the Superior 50 mile last Fall.

Neil – dangerously close to a BQ marathon pace, arguably is the most potentially physically fit of this group, but chooses to slum it with us rather than getting serious.  set our group’s 20-minute-pushup record of 304 (for now).

Diego – slow like me, one of the only ones here who gets that running is supposed to be fun.  organizing an ultra team for the Ragnar Relay team this year (spots available).  Disappointed that he didn’t get into an indoor track marathon – 400 times around a track, go figure.

Hugh – a complete nut job who signs up for races before he is ready for them (Lake Placid Ironman, Leadville 100 mountain bike) yet finishes. has a cabin that is peeing distance from Oberg Mountain on the SHT, signed up for the 50k this Spring.  Trying to talk me into running the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc.

I’m running very minimal miles this week, probably more walking than running, and will run very little next week.  I’m spending my “training” time on planning, and final gear purchases.  Those two things help a lot with pre-race anxiety.

If nothing else, this will be a fun weekend in the woods and a good learning experience for the Superior 100.  Good times!

Posted in Races | 6 Comments »

Food and Hydration for the Superior Trail 50 Mile

Posted by scott on September 18, 2009

Here is a rough accounting of how I fueled and hydrated for the Superior Trail 50 Mile race this year.  This is probably 85-90% accurate as far as exactly what I ate and calorie estimates, so take it for what it’s worth.  While I was training I just always wanted to see a complete plan to get some idea of what other people did as a whole picture, not just “I like this” or “that does down well”.  Times are very approximate, and likely won’t add up exactly to my race time – I’m just not bothering with being that accurate.  It is what it is.

Important Note: This should not be considered any type of plan or recommendation.  This is just what happened to work well for me that day, in those conditions.  It probably won’t work well for you, and it probably won’t work for me again.  Like I said, it’s just a snapshot.

AS = Aid Station.  Also note that a major ultra rule I broke is that I spent a lot of time in aid stations.  I even got kicked out of one (thanks Dale! That was funny.).  Most people recommend no more than about 2 minutes per AS.  But guess what?  I loved it!  My family was there, I got to eat a bunch, and it’s part of how I really enjoyed the overall race.

Segment/AS Time Spent (h:mm)
Food (cals) HEED (oz) Water (oz)
Start —- —- 8 —-
Start to Sonju 1:38 1/2 Clif bloks 100
Hammergel 100
1/2 Lara bar 100
20 —-
Sonju AS 0:02 Pretzels 60
Potatoes 50
8 —-
Sonju to Crosby-Manitou 0:55 1/2 Lara bar  100
Hammergel  100
1/2 Clif bloks  100
20 —-
Crosby-Manitou AS 0:04 Banana  80
Cookie  50
Strawberries 10
Potatoes 50
1/4 PB&J  100
8 —-
Crosby-Manitou to Sugarloaf 2:23 Monkey Fuel (see below) 620
Clif bloks 200
—- 20
Sugarloaf AS 0:12 1/2 Ramen 190
Egg burrito piece 50
Potatoes 50
Sugarloaf to Cramer 1:15 1/2 Clif bloks  100
Hammergel  100
20 20
Cramer Road AS 0:07 1/2 PB&J  200
Bananas w/PB 50
Oranges  25
4 cookies 200
Cramer to Temperance River 1:48 Clif bloks  200
Hammergel  100
20 20
Temperance River AS 0:07 Turkey wrap  50
Potatoes 50
3 cookies 150
Hard-boiled egg 75
Temperance to Sawbill 1:18 Clif bloks  200
Hammergel  100
20 20
Sawbill AS 0:10 1/2 Ramen 190
1/2 PB&J  200
Oranges 25
Cookies 100
Sawbill to Oberg 1:22 Clif bloks  200 20 20
Oberg AS 0:08 Strawberries 10
1/2 PB&J  200
Cookies 100
Oberg to Finish 2:05 1/2 Clif bloks  100
Hammergel  100
16 16

4935 calories
2.12 gallons of HEED (272 ounces)
.9 gallons of water (116 ounces)

Monkey Fuel mix (Inspired by Scott Jurek’s drink mix)
16 oz. Rice Milk (I like enriched Vanilla Rice Dream)
3 tbsp Soy Protein (I like Yammer Soy Essence)
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp chia seeds

Other Notes

  • I took an S! cap every 45 minutes, religiously, throughout the day.  I might have been able to up that to 1/30 mins in the middle of the day during the heat.
  • I frequently had a very full stomach leaving the AS and and to walk for 15 minutes or so to clear it before running again, but I preferred that to eating large amounts on the trail.
  • The honey and chia in the drink mix worked well for me during training, but didn’t seem to taste right during the race.  Maybe it was the heat?  I could have left the honey out for sure, maybe even the chia.  But it was nice to pack in those calories in liquid form.
  • I carried 2 Nathan handhelds for most of the race, thus the 20/20 for HEED and water.  For a couple of longer sections I could have drank more.
  • This works out to about 350 calories per hour (almost 14 hour race), which was my original plan.

Posted in Races | 5 Comments »

2009 Superior Trail 50 Mile Race Report

Posted by scott on September 14, 2009

Short Version

I finished the Superior Trail 50 Mile race in 13 hours 48 minutes (according to my GPS, no published times yet).  The race was a total blast, I loved it and will do it again.  My family was there to crew me and I loved seeing them at the aid stations, and running with my boys when they came to meet me on the trail.  It was crazy hot and muggy for me, but I think I was able to stay ahead of food and hydration enough that it didn’t bring me down.

Long version

I just had a blast with this race.  By rights, I was bold even toeing the starting line and frankly had no business finishing.  My training this summer was nowhere near what I wanted.  I had a few injuries that lead to 2-3 week breaks in running, and I only did 2 runs over 20 miles (26 and 30).  To top it off, I only got 4 hours of sleep the night before the race.  Before going to bed, I discovered that I had forgotten the bladder for my Camelback, and my 2 Nathan handhelds were with my crew and showing up at Crosby-Manitou (11.7 miles into the race).  So I started with my Camelback as a backpack and had to carry an REI water bottle for the first couple hours.  I knew it was going to be warm, so decided to take an S! cap every 45 minutes, much more frequently than I did in training.

For the first sections of the race I just really took it easy with the pace.  I started towards the back of the pack and a lot of people passed me.  No worries.  I kept telling myself to go slow and do my own race.  I started eating at mile 2 with Clif bloks, and planned to steadily eat all day.  I drank HEED at the start and filled my water bottle with HEED there and again at Sonju and was downing it like crazy.

By the time I got to Crosby-Manitou (mile 11.7), I could really tell it was going to be a hot and muggy day.  I dropped my Camelback and picked up my handhelds.  Mom had mixed my custom ultra fuel (rice milk, soy protein, chia seeds, honey – 620 calories) in one and I put water in the other.  I ate a bit at the car, then chatted with Maria Barton and John Storkamp at the food table while I ate some more.

Crosby-Manitou Aid Station

I hit the trail still feeling great and ready for this section, which I love and know.  The massive gorge didn’t seem as bad as the first time I went through and I finished this section with a surprise.  My two boys had hiked in to meet me!  They filmed me coming down the trail and then wanted to run with me to Sugarloaf.

At Sugarloaf (mile 21), I had some Ramen noodles and a bit of breakfast burrito along with a lot of HEED and other aid station snacks.  I realized there that I was going to be able to eat a lot more at the aid stations than I had planned, so wouldn’t have to eat as much on the trail.  My goal was about 350 calories per hour, or 4900 calories for a 14 hour race.

Sugarloaf Aid Station

My older son ran with me out of the aid station for a bit, then we said goodbye and I walked while I finished eating.  During the sections I usually ate a pack of Clif bloks and a gel.  I tried Lara bars, but they were just a bit too dry.  I don’t remember anything notable about this section terrain-wise, but I did start to realize that I was feeling absolutely great.  The heat was starting to get to me, but fortunately it absolutely poured rain during this section for a mile or two.  I loved it!  I mean poured-cats-and-dogs rain.  It really cooled things off and I loved it.  I did feel bad for the 100-milers getting their feet repaired at Sugarloaf.  I imagined how great it must have felt to get blisters fixed and put on dry socks and shoes, and how disenheartening it would be to have them get soaked less than a mile later.

I just kept cruising along the trail, running when I could and walking when I had to.  I had done some math while planning and found that the average finish time for last year ended up being around a 16 minute pace.  Note for anyone not familiar with this trail, that’s a statement of how tough it is and how much walking is required!  So I was shocked to see a lot of my miles ticking by at 12 and 13 minutes – I’m getting some in the bank!  A mistake of the day that didn’t turn out catastophic was that my S! caps had melted in my pocket during the rain.  I managed to smear one last one into my mouth in this section before they were scrap.  Have you ever eaten an open S! cap?  Don’t.

At Cramer Road (26.7 miles) I picked up my empty mini-M&M bottle filled with S! caps and ate, ate, ate.  I drank a bunch of HEED and filled one handheld with HEED and one with water, which I did throughout the day.  I was drinking and peeing like crazy trying to stay ahead of hydration and it was working.

I had also picked up a bandana at the last aid station and it was a godsend.  Honestly that was the most valuable piece of gear I had on the trail that day, a cheap REI bandana  (actually not cheap it was $3.50, which I thought was kind of a ripoff for a bandana at the time – the day before the race).  It was still wet from the rain and kept me really cool in the heat.  I used it a lot just to wipe away sweat and cool off, and stopped to dunk it in rivers and cool myself down – awesome.

I cruised along to Temperance River (33.8 miles)  and was still feeling just awesome.  I had a very slight headache that I was tracking, but really could figure out any food or hydration reasons behind it.  So I chalked it up to heat and did what I could to cool down.  I was passing a lot of people on the trail, surprisingly.  At Temperance I ate a bunch again (thanks for the turkey wraps, gang, those were great!) and hung with the family a bit.  I think one reason for my picked up pace was that a couple miles out I would start thinking “If I just pick up the pace a bit, I can chat with my family longer!”.  They really kept me in the game.

I had never run this next section, and it was absolutely beautiful along the river.  I passed a lot of day hikers, who politely moved off the trail for me which was very nice.  I wondered how many of them knew what was going on.  There were a lot of backpacking campers in this section, and their campfires all smelled so inviting!  I wondered why no one ever mentions how challenging this section is.  There is a long but 900 foot ascent to the foot of Carleton peak, then a 600 foot scramble over a rock fall – it was a sick joke.  That is a crazy section at the end, one of the toughest spots but very beautiful views.  I signed the guestbook at the top and kept booking onto Sawbill, where I volunteered last year.

At Sawbill (39.5 miles) I hung out for awhile and chatted with my family and with Dale and Steve.

Sawbill Aid Station

I chowed again on more Ramen noodles and other snacks.  I heard about Matt and Adam dropping and felt bad about that.  I was still just amazed that I was feeling great.  I knew the last section was hard, but I was feeling like I had the race in the bag as long as I didn’t do anything stupid (certainly not out of the question).  I also showed my geek colors – I was determined to get a full GPS track from the race.  I plugged a USB charger into the base for my 205, then strapped the watch hugely around my wrist and tied the charger to my forearm with the bandana.  Totally geeky but it worked – I recharged all the way to Oberg where I dropped it off again.  For some reason I thought Sawbill to Oberg was a fast, runnable section – not so.  This was way slower than I thought, and finally at mile 43 something changed.  My quads started to bark and I was finally feeling the race.  It wasn’t awful, but I just really reset expectations to take it easy.

At Oberg (45 miles), I drank and ate a ton and really tried to hydrate since I knew the last section was going to take me awhile.  I re-lubed to prevent “ring of fire”, put on my headlamp and hit the trail.  I had arrived here way ahead of schedule.  I didn’t really set pace expectations other than knowing the averages from last year so my crew could roughly plan, but I had been ahead of them since Crosby-Manitou.

This section was grueling as usually.  By the time I got to the top of Moose Mountain, I was really feeling my quads.  I was doing a lot of walking and just doing anything to not fall and screw things up.  I remember the overlook towards Caribou Highlands and thinking, yikes that’s a bit farther than I want.  Every time I have run this section I have confused the small dip at the end of Moose for the descent of Moose and the ascent of Mystery.  So I was sorely disappointed to be reminded of Mystery mountain of the end.  It’s not the biggest, it’s just killer when your gassed.  At long last I could hear the welcome sound of Poplar River, and knew I was close.  That’s such a great sound to hear.

As I popped out onto the road, I couldn’t believe it but there were my two boys standing in the dark waiting for me.  We ran together all the way to the finish, and it was the best race finish I’ve ever had.


I’m sore and hobbling around like an old man, but nothing too serious.  I had a fabulous day out on the trail and will definitely do this race again.  That is one tough trail, but the reward is all of it’s beauty.  I still don’t know how I had such a great day out there, but I did.

My family was a phenomenal crew, and there was no way I would have done this well my first time out without them.  Thanks you guys for chasing me all day and giving me something to run towards.  Larry and all of the volunteers put on a great race.  I also couldn’t have finished this without help from the mn-drs list and all of the local ultra bloggers I read, you guys are a great source of information and inspiration.  More than others, I want to thank Adam and Matt for advice and encouragement along the way.  I really appreciate your posts and thanks for letting me bug you with email questions along the way – your responses were invaluable and I wouldn’t have done this well without your input.

GPS details
52.44 miles in 13:48:30
Overall average pace 15:48
5600 calories burned
Map at RunningAhead

Posted in Races | 12 Comments »

2009 Ragnar Great River Relay Race Report

Posted by scott on August 25, 2009

This past weekend I participated in my first relay – the Ragnar Great River Relay.  The course this year was 195 miles from Winona to Minneapolis and I was runner #2.  I really had no idea what to expect for this race, and never really had a good picture in my mind of how it would all work.  But what a blast it turned out to be.  We had a 12-person team in two vans and a 10:00am Friday start time, so loaded up our vans and hit the road at 6:00am for the drive down.

The starting area was a quick intro to what we were in for.  This race is dominated by costumes, decorated vans, hilarious slogans, and a party atmosphere.  We had to check in and show our headlamps, vests, and tail lights for the night segments.  This would also turn out to be probably the longest chance we had to hang out as an entire team.  I didn’t realize the vans would be so separated.  I was in van #1 so we got our first runner started and began this exhilarating madness.

Ragnar Team at the Start

Our team at the start.

Leg 2 – 6.2 miles outside Winona

I picked up my first leg just outside Winona right along the river.  We had a really, really laidback team which I loved.  We had a 9:20 overall average pace estimate and no one really cared what we ran, we were all in it for the fun.  Having said that, I don’t know quite what came over me but I got really caught up in the pace.  I was feeling good and the weather was great for running.  I ran this segment at a 7:29 pace, which just shocked me.  I netted +2 in position, but was passed like I was standing still by a few runners.  Both vans cheered me at a couple of points on the route and its just a blast to see my new buddies on the course like that.

Our van finished our first segments somewhere around 4-4:30pm and got our first break.  We watched Rob tackle what I think was the single toughest hill that I saw on the course right after the van exchange.  Then we dropped in on Nelson, WI to find a bite to eat.  We happened upon Nelson Cheese and Creamery and it couldn’t have been better.  We had a nice dinner, some ice cream, and got to cheer 2 of our runners as this was right on an out-and-back segment with an exchange at the turnaround.  We also got to hang out with van 2 for another while and relaxed on the patio laughing about the good times so far.

Leg 14 – 8.3 miles over Maiden Rock on Lake Pepin

We took over again around 8:00pm.  This leg was rated Very Hard and on paper seemed like one of the most difficult segments.  I don’t think that’s true after running it and seeing what some of my teammates had to deal with, but it was a ton of fun.  I was feeling just gassed after my first run going way too fast for me.  My quads were tight and exhausted and I was telling everyone I had no idea what was going to happen.  I even decided to carb-fuel the run with Hammergel right before the exchange and Clif shot bloks along the way.  As it turned out, this was literally my most dialed-in run of this year.  Again, I have no idea how it happened but I ran this at a 7:40 pace – with 1.5 mile climb up Maiden Rock.  I did one mile on the downhill at  a 6:40 pace, and ended up +6 on position.  I just couldn’t believe how great this run felt.  I was firing on all cylinders and having a great time.  I got to watch the sun finish setting at the beginning, and ran most of it by headlamp which I really enjoy.

Cheering Our Runner at Sunset

Waiting to cheer Erik by, right before my run up Maiden Rock.

Everyone else had great runs through the evening.  Diego finished another segment that I thought looked like tough hills and we ended at Prescott High School around 1:30am to hand off to van 2.  We had been really looking forward to this exchange as it’s a major exchange and advertised a spaghetti dinner, warm showers, and a place to sleep.  We had all dreamed our way through these last runs by picturing that spaghetti.  So imagine how we felt to find spaghetti crossed off the menu when we got into the high school.  Dinner turned out to be a big plate of iceberg lettuce, dressing and garlic bread.  I think two of my lucky friends also had bits of onion in theirs.  The hot shower was great and overdue after 2 runs.  We paid $2 each to grab some sleep on the high school gym floor on wrestling mats, which were surprisingly comfortable, for only about 1.5 hours.  We were up again at 4am to make the drive to Stillwater and take over for van 2.

Leg 26 – 4.4 miles near Bayport, MN

I was complete groggy when we got up, thank goodness Diego drove.  We got some hot chocolate by the bridge in Stillwater and cheered in Tim.  Erik from our van took over and we had to cruise because he only had 3 miles before I was on.  My brain was still goo.  I changed on the side of the highway while everyone else cheered him.  We drove to the exchange point in Bayport and I was fumbling with gear, Gatorade, etc. knowing that I was cutting it short.  I started walking to the start and suddenly heard Tim A. shout my name – Erik was on his way in, and I was a block or two from the exchange!  So I hoofed it to the start and met Erik exactly in the chute, just barely in time to make a clean handoff.  I took off and picked up my handheld from Diego on the way and then realized I had never even looked at my route.  It turned out to be easy to follow but I was feeling slow most of the way up the first hill.  My legs started kicking in and feeling better and I hit a good stride.  The rising sun was nice to watch, and I didn’t need my headlamp on.  I started hearing footsteps behind me, and was thinking no big deal if I was passed.  But I must have subconsciously kicked it in because he hung right behind me for probably a 1/2 mile up a hill.  I finally turned around laughing and told him he had to pass me so I could loosen up the pace!  He laughed back and said he couldn’t quite do it, but would run with me.  So thus I met Jacob and we ran the last 2 miles chatting up about marathons, training, and the race so far.  It was a great time and a nice way to finish my runs.  We ran this segment at a 7:16 pace – I have Jacob to thank for that one, again not my body!

Another highlight of these finish segments was pure serendipity.  Paul called me around 7-7:30am on a training ride with his wife around Manning Avenue in Woodbury saying he saw Ragnar vans.  We compared notes and found that we were only a couple miles away, and Tim was running towards him.  So they did their loops and eventually caught up with us for a chat, which was a lot of fun.  We cheered them as we passed them again while trailing Tim.  Everyone had great final runs, and Terry had hills that I think were literally the hardest and longest I saw and the end of his route in Afton.  Crazy and cruel, they were.

Finish and bonus miles

Our van finished around 8:30am and handed off to van 2.  We decided to head back and empty the van and then find breakfast.  We dropped vehicles at Boom Island, the finish, and walked up to Elsie’s for a great breakfast and Bloody Mary.  We got to talking logistics about dropping the van and getting back to Boom, and Diego came up with the idea of dropping the van and running back to Boom to get a few more miles in, so we did that.  My legs were shot – my hamstrings were as tight as piano strings from running way outside my pace zone.  But I toughed it out on the promise that we would only run 10:00 miles, which we did.  We then decided to walk back to the Stone Arch bridge (about 1 mile) to wait it out for Tim and run the final mile with him.  He came through and we ran the victory lap with about 5-6 of our team members and finished sometime around 1:35pm.

We hung out very briefly at the finish, but people were ready to get going.  We got bottle-opener medals for finishing, which we all laughed about – finally a useful medal.

Nice Slogan!

Not our van, but a typical snarky slogan on a race van.  This one was tame compared to many.

This race was a total blast.  This race was a bit of running sprinkled here and there during an all-night Gonzo road trip.  My total miles for the day were somewhere around 24, 18 of which were official race miles.  We had a lot of laughs and saw beautiful scenery.  I had great runs and good times.  Thanks Diego, Terry, Tim, Erik, Traci, Mel, Rob, Tim, Liz, Dawn, and Mark for all the fun and Diego especially for organizing everything.  Maybe an ultra team next year?  Or maybe a 12-person double Ragnar?

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Superior Trail Training Weekend – Spring 2009 Races

Posted by scott on May 18, 2009

Did I ever mention that I love the Superior Hiking Trail?

I am still trying to fight my way through this lame injury that keeps dragging on, and have been desperately yet gradually trying to ramp up my mileage.  Heading up to SHT was really a stretch from where I was at with Spring training, but what a blast it was.  I drove up Friday night and pitched my tent at Temperance River in a light mist before catching the pre-race briefing for the Spring Superior Trail Races.  I had a nice chat with Zach Pierce, meeting him for the first time after trading emails.  By the time I got back towards the tent it was pouring, so I opted for a warm dinner at Bluefin, and then arrived at camp to find my tent leaking and water dripping on my sleeping bag!  Quick fix to the rain fly and I fell asleep reading More Fire (more on that in a future post).

Saturday – 25k Race

I got to Caribou Highlands in time to mingle a bit before the 50k start at 7:00am.  I met Steve Quick and Keith and chatted with each of them a bit.  The start of the 50k cracked me up and reminded me why I love the trail running and ultra scene – it’s so informal.  They momentarily delayed the start to let a guy finish tying his shoes!  The runners took off and I killed time around the lodge, officially checked in for the race, and ate in my car.  In the last few minutes before the start while warming up inside I randomly started chatting with a guy who then mentioned that he likes to run in FiveFingers, what are the odds of that.  We ended up running the first couple miles together.

Overall it was a great race.  The wind was whipping like crazy, but that was only a problem on the road at the start and finish and on the tops of the mountains.  Otherwise it was a perfect weather day, and a bit of snow even made it fun.  The hills were as difficult as I remembered, but I loved every step.  The only small issue I had was a bit of quad cramping after I had a slipped step on a root.  I took another S! cap and had no more issues.

A great run, and finished in 2:48, much better than my training run last Fall.

While hanging around the finishing line watching the 50k finishers roll in, I met Julie Berg and got to thank her for the referral to Jenna Boren for ART.  And a huge thank you to all of the volunteers, it takes a lot to put on these races.  Everyone on race day was great, and thanks especially to the crews who went up for 2 weekends before the race to clear the SHT from Spring ice storm aftermath.  Thanks everyone!  I was a volunteer last Fall, and I highly recommend it if you are not going to run an event.

Tim had to miss the race, but showed up later in the day and I sort-of crewed him running the reverse route starting and finishing at Oberg, which might just be an easier direction.  He had a great run, and was so excited starting out that he accidentally ran the Oberg Mountain loop trail – both the short and long hikes – before getting onto the real trail!  Bonus 1.8 miles.

Sunday – Crosby-Manitou to Sugarloaf

I loved the race but I was almost more looking forward to running this segment from the Fall course, which is supposed to be one of (or the?) nastiest.  This was a fantastic run, perfect weather the whole time.  The first 2-3 miles are frankly not runnable – it’s more of a power hike, where you can run about 10 feet of flat here and there before you are ascending or descending.  Here is some evidence:

SHT-Crosby-Manitou rocks

SHT-Crosby-Manitou roots

At times you can barely tell where the trail is.  The ascents and descents are amazing quad-burners:



And then after 3-4-ish miles it finally opens up into a variety of runnable terrain – boggy boardwalks, grass, pine needles.  This was a beautiful segment to explore and I’m really glad we went with this plan rather than trying to tough out the 50k on low training.  It was a great chance to see another section from Fall and fill out my awareness of what this trail brings.

Finished this 10-miler in 2:12, which I feel really good about after being sore from Saturday, low training, and the type of terrain.

Great camping, great training weekend and a lot of fun.  Some learnings from training:

  • I believe these are 2 of the toughest sections from the 50 mile.  If that’s true and I can throttle back the pace to preserve energy in these, I say bring on the 50!  I can’t wait.
  • My glute/hamstring/whatever so far has survived great from those aggresive runs.  Maybe ART is working (again more on that in a future post)?
  • I love Clif Shot Blocks and Recoverite – both freebies from the race.  I might switch to shot blocks from gels, which are not doing it for me.  Tim uses diluted honey, maybe that is worth a try.  I have never been much for recovery drinks, but like Recoverite so might experiment with that for a bit.
  • Love the new Moeben sleeves, Sunday was the first run in them.  They have a curious way of cooling you down while running and keeping you warm when you stop.  Will keep testing these.
  • Was glad to be in my 790s rather than FiveFingers.  I love the VFF for training, but am happy to have some more toe protection and be a little more style sloppy on this kind of terrain.
  • I still love a hydration pack.  It’s more to carry, but I enjoy packing the kitchen sink when I hit the trail, and it’s still the easiest way for me to drink while running.
  • NEED MORE HILL TRAINING.  Stairs do not compare at all to ascending and descending technical terrain.  I need to find a convenient source for hill training.

I don’t have any more definite race plans until the Fall races.  Would be great to get another weekend of training runs in on the SHT, but don’t know if my schedule will allow.  But I’m psyched up and committed to the 50 now, as long as my recovery keeps going in a positive direction.

More pictures from the weekend are on flickr (will be adding details later).

UPDATE: here are the GPS tracks from the weekend runs


Garmin Connect


Garmin Connect

Posted in Races, Training | 5 Comments »

Inaugural Zumbro Bottoms 100s This Weekend – Good Luck

Posted by scott on April 10, 2009

Good luck to everyone heading down to the inaugural Zumbro Bottoms 100s races this weekend!  I haven’t kept close track of locals who are running, but I can’t wait to read reports from Steve, Matt,  and Zach (do you have a blog?).  I think Helen and Kelly are volunteering/spectating, and as I know from experience that also gives you great perspective on a race.  Sorry to any I left out due to the quick post.

Someone posted pics from a recon run – was it just me, or did parts of that course look Barkley-ish?  I don’t think it’s beyond Larry to put up a challenging course, but I’m sure it will be a blast.

Best of luck to everyone!

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