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A Word About Primadonna Attitudes and Runners

Posted by scott on September 16, 2009

I’m sorry to say that an otherwise great time at Lutsen ended on a sour note right as we were leaving, when my wife encountered a runner with a Primadonna attitude.  The runner was complaining about the poor course markings going to the finish area where it dips down behind the condos.  She was complaining that they should have had someone posted there directing runners.  She instead ran past all that and continued down the road in front of the condos before she realized her mistake and turned around.  My wife commented sympathetically that she saw that happen when she was looking for our kids in the dark down the road the other direction.  “Why didn’t you SAY something??!!” the runner barked, “I was wearing a headlamp, what did you THINK I was doing??!!” she barked again.  Of course I didn’t hear all of this until later, or I would have offered my thoughts at the time.

I can’t stand this weird sense of entitlement that many runners have, thinking that everyone in sight is required to give them any and all assistance they possibly need, now.  Guess what:  no one else cares about your race as much as you do.  You make the mistakes, you live with them.  People help you when they are able and willing, and you thank them.  It’s pretty simple.  Of all places on Earth, this is especially true at at ultramarathon on the Superior Hiking Trail.  Have you seen the course ratings in Ultrarunning magazine?

I could have been more sympathetic to the runner had this exchange happened the night of the race.  I was as beat as anyone at the finish, and your mind gets mushy when you are exhausted and finishing in the dark.  You just want to be DONE.  But this was the next morning, and by then I would expect people to cool down and see the bigger picture.  This is the one thing that really bugs me about the running world, as this sense of weird entitlement is just too prevalent for my liking.  I haven’t encountered this nearly as much in the ultra world, I thought I had left this behind at road races.  Fortunately, the vast majority of the regulars I have encountered don’t seem to have this attitude.

And finally, for the record, I thought the course was superbly marked right up to the finish.  Good job Don and Bonnie!  The flags jump out at you in the dark with a headlamp.  And no, I don’t think they needed to have anyone posted there to point to the several flags marking the turn.  I went off course at the finish in the Spring race, because rather than remember the pre-race instructions I clearly heard, I followed the path that I was convinced the course would follow. I’m guessing this runner did something similar.  It’s an innocent mistake, it happens, you fix it and move on.

On a lighter note, we stopped on the way home for a fantastic lunch at the Lemon Wolf Cafe in Beaver Bay and then Betty’s Pies for dessert.  So we still ended the weekend on a good note.


Posted in Life | 8 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?

Posted in Races | 4 Comments »

Say Hello to the New Feelmax Running Shoes

Posted by scott on July 9, 2009

I am finally able to talk about this fantastic new Feelmax running shoe that I have been testing – take a look:

Feelmax running shoes - solesFeelmax running shoes - flex 1

My eyes popped out of my head when I opened the package several weeks back.  This is exactly the sort of minimalist running shoe I have been on the hunt for, and I am thrilled with how it performed.  This is the most minimal running shoe I have encountered that still has traditional shoe styling without adding weight or sacrificing performance.  The upper is incredibly lightweight and breathable – more breathable than the Feelmax Niesa.  The shoe rides very well on the foot, and with lacing you can control the snugness.

But the fantastic improvement in this shoe is the sole.  It is a fantastic balance of foot protection, flexibility, and grip.  The sole is approximately as thick as the FiveFingers KSO sole, possibly a bit more.  But it does not sacrifice flexibility, and even feels “softer” on the ground than FiveFingers, in a curious way.  I still love my FiveFingers, but these Feelmax shoes are now a staple of my running footwear.  If nothing else, it’s nice to have something still very minimal to put on when you get tired of the odd looks you get in FiveFingers, huaraches, and barefoot!

I think this is a shoe that will be incredibly appealing to Chi runners and POSE runners.  If you practice one of those running styles, you need to get your hands on these.  Notice these footfall prints on a recent trail run:

Feelmax running shoe - print 3Feelmax running shoe - print 2

Take careful note of what you don’t see – any ground contact under the arch.  Even though there is sole material under the arch, there is no arch support.  The foot is allowed to land naturally without control or interference coming from the soling structure.

Launching to the Public
These shoes will be launched to the world next week at Outdoor Fair in Germany.  So drop by the Feelmax booth and give them a look if you will be there.  I’m hoping to get more details soon on US availability and/or online orderability and will certainly post that when I have it.

Thank you Feelmax for giving us this fabulous shoe!

Disclosure: I have been provided a few pairs of Feelmax shoes for testing and review purposes in exchange for my non-public feedback.

Posted in Feelmax, Shoes | 15 Comments »

Check Out Silent Sports Magazine

Posted by scott on July 7, 2009

I recently discovered Silent Sports magazine after I was asked to write an article on volunteering at the Superior Trail Races last Fall and training for the 50 mile race this year.  This is a cool Midwest-based magazine about non-motorized outdoor activities, definitely worth a look.  It’s available at REI (at least the Minnesota stores).

My article is in the July issue, which is now available, and is also online.

Silent Sports Running Feature

Posted in Training | 4 Comments »

Summer Balance Training

Posted by scott on June 18, 2009

I am starting to get addicted to balance training, and might have gone off the deep end.  I picked up a bosu first and like it, but it’s just a big too big to store where I can easily use it.  I next picked up a heavy ball and spend TV time in the evenings standing on top of it (with breaks).  It’s incredibly simplistic, but fun.  You can really feel all of the little-muscles-you-didn’t-know-you-have working together to keep you on the ball.  It’s also a great foot strengthening exercise, and a nice complement to barefoot/minimal shoe running.

So I thought with summer happening I would take the fun outside, and I picked up a unicycle and some Freeline skates.   I got good deals on Craigslist on both, because they are incredibly difficult to learn, and a lot of people throw in the towel.  I’m at the pre-natal stages of learning both, but it’s fun.  Again, I can definitely feel the micro-muscles working and this is cross-training works muscles I KNOW I don’t use at anything else.

If nothing else, I think its exciting to leave the comfort zone and try something challenging and new.  Even if these are goofball things to try, they are stretch goals for me nonetheless and will require patience and physicial training to become proficient.  And that’s its own reward.

Posted in Training | Leave a Comment »

Minimal Footwear Is Here To Stay

Posted by scott on June 17, 2009

The continuing verdict for me is that huaraches are here to stay for summer running.  It is just a blast to have the tops of your feet open to the breeze in this great summer weather.  I’ve gone up to 13 miles in them just fine, only a bit of chafing from the laces but I have an answer for that.  Good stuff.

However I was reminded yet again that running minimal is not without its risks.  My achilles was a bit sore at the beginning of a training run last week and rather than going shorter or easier, I went all out for a 7 miler – bad call.  Stretching your Achilles Tendon gradually and safely is probably the most important change that happens when you start running minimal or barefoot.  You have to carefully increase distance and pace, as is often preached in marathon training.  The difference is that you are much more impacted by the changes.  Anyhow, I’m still resting a few days and my AT is feeling better and better so I will be back at it in no time.

I still like my New Balance 790s and will be wearing those some of the time.  I will likely still race in these at Superior.  But Feelmax, huaraches, and Vibram FiveFingers are the staple diet for me.

Another amusing change that happens when you run minimal is that your feet get bigger.  It’s a combination of letting them get more stretched, building muscles, and increases the pads on the soles (soles are not tougher from barefooting, just thicker).  I’m glad I ordered a larger pair of 790s awhile back, because my toes are bumping the front of my current pair where I used to have room.  As your toes spread, FiveFingers also get much easier to put on.  Many people say they initially had to struggle into them, but after a year or more they are able to slip into them standing up.

Posted in Barefoot, Feelmax, FiveFingers, Huaraches, Shoes | 3 Comments »

Huarache Week

Posted by scott on May 28, 2009

Starting last Sunday I have done all of my runs this week in my new Vibram Cherry huarache sandals:

Huarache Sandals - 4mm Vibram Cherry

I have put about 20 miles in, over a variety of terrain.  I did 8 miles of gravel road and trail last weekend, and the rest on asphalt, concrete, and grass next to sidewalks.  I am loving these!  It’s just a blast when the weather is nice to feel the sun and wind on the tops of your feet.  I also don’t mind the extra bit of sole protection over pure barefoot.  The only downside to these is that fact anyone who looks at you thinks you are a freak – it’s a good thing I’m used to that.  Actually, most people don’t even make eye contact because they are staring at your feet.  These are definitely keepers.

I also received another style of Feelmax shoes for testing.  They look fantastic and felt great around the house, I can’t wait to hit the trails with them.   More details soon (hopefully).

Posted in Feelmax, Huaraches, Shoes | 5 Comments »

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 »

Pleasure and Pain – Running with a Dog

Posted by scott on May 7, 2009

Our dog Nessie is a hard-core runner.  She absolutely loves our runs and is incredibly attuned to the slightest sign that a run might be coming up.  If I’m checking my bag before going to work the next day, she comes from anywhere in the house as soon as she hears the zipper.  Any time I touch running shoes (tidying them up in the closet, etc.), she is at my side.  Any now with our early morning long runs, any time I get up early she is following me around the house, just in case.  When a run is definitely imminent – running gear on, shoes on, GPS on – she whines and wimpers until we are out the door.

She is tons of fun on the trail.  She is constantly back and forth to be out front and then back to say hi.  She’s in and out of the woods flushing grouse and deer.  I put my old GPS on her last weekend and when I did 11.7 miles, she did 13.4.  She keeps looking back at me like she’s thinking “I can’t believe we get to do this!”

In town is still fun for her, but a bit more of a struggle for me.  She is constantly pulling me forward – it takes 3-4 miles for her to settle down into a comfortable pace.  I finally discovered that an extending leash, which I hate from a dog-training standpoint, is the most comfortable leash to hold even when she pulls.  I also try to hit trail areas early morning, when she can be off leash.

We had our biggest run-in (literally) a couple weekends ago when I painfully learned the hazards of barefoot-style running and dogs.  I was halfway into a 10-miler and things were going great in my FiveFingers when she suddenly darted in front of me.  My foot was swinging forward and I kicked her leg hard.  Fortunately for her, the VFFs meant she was OK but my foot erupted in instant pain.  I came to a full stop and shared some vocal thoughts for a few moments.  For the rest of that weekend I was sure it was broken!  Xray on Monday confirmed no fracture, so we are again on speaking terms.

The highlight for Nessie is when we get home, and she gets a raw egg (or more depending on distance).  She never lets me forget it, and follows me around the house until it’s in her dish (a polite small whine here and there to remind me).  It’s a little ritual I started after we first started running and I would get really crabby with all of her pulling.  I decided I needing to reset my attitude, so I started calling her “Coach” on the run and an egg for a treat when we got home.  I’m still kind of wondering if this is what she really likes about the run – just the egg!

Posted in FiveFingers, Training | 2 Comments »