Excited to Start Training Again

Since my last post, I haven't done much (any) training. Instead, I've been staying up late, reading lots of blogs, and taking it easy. On my walks to and from the parking ramp at work, I'll break out into a trot or a run, just to feel where my left heel is at with its repair. How annoying when it is when that familiar ache is still there. I had last stated that I would start swimming more and focus on strength training during this break, and that is still the plan. My biggest challenge in this is having the motivation to go to bed early enough that I get a good night's sleep before attempting to wake up for an early morning workout. I really am a nightowl at heart.

Cut to last night, Christmas Eve, and an early gift-opening for Meghan and I after the kids retired for the night. A brand new copy of "Daniels' Running Forumla", 2nd edition rested in my hands - which I periodically set down to sample the 15 year MacCallan single-malt scotch she also bought me (nummy). I had registered for the book on Amazon at least a year ago and still hadn't bought it myself. Being a scientist by education, a systems/support engineer by trade and a do-it-yourself geek by nature, I wasn't particularly excited about most of the training books out there. The authors tend to expound upon their years of experience, prescribing a "this is how it you should do it" schedule for runners of "Beginner", "Intermediate", and "Experienced" levels. I appreciate the simplistic distillation of all runners into three buckets about as much as I appreciate a bottle of Cutty Sark - i.e. not at all.

Coach Jack Daniels, PhD provides a different approach. Using past (and preferably recent) race performances, he rates runners upon sound scientific principles and capabilities, then prescribes training intensities that match their current capabilities! There aren't three buckets for all runners, rather a gradiation of scale that fits any runner.  He emphasizes the importance of time and quality of workout rather than distance, and gives concrete principles for planning a season of training with a target performance date in mind, and the flexibility to change priorities when setbacks occur.

I'm quite impressed and have had a hard time putting the book down, except to plan for my "comeback" this 2012 season. Had I not strained my achilles, I would be out there now. Since I had, however, I've been pining about running and worried about taking so much time off. I know, you've all suggested I just take it easy, but worry is my nature. Daniels has given me a ray of hope, though, or perhaps just blew apart the clouds enough for me to see clearly a plan for the year.  I have a week of vacation starting yesterday, and I plan on taking advantage of it to start focusing on not-running for six weeks - a honest-to-goodness core and flexibility plan to address my immediate weaknesses and establish a weekly focus and routine.  The "running" I will permit myself is deep-water running, but that's it. The remainder of my work-outs will be focusing on continuing the PT and strength training of my left hip, core strength, and flexibility.  I'll get some endurance work from twice or three-times-a-week swimming sessions, one long swim and one interval or tempo. We'll see how that cuts it. (Besides, I need to cut the 8 lbs I've gained since October!)


Winter Shufflin Blues

Finally made it through my backlog of emails at work!  Only took two hours after the boys went to bed.  Originally thought I would hack on my own stuff, alas it was not to be.  I've been sitting in front of this laptop for most of the evening, first to work on an on-call page, then to dig in to some funky unit testing for an Andriod application I'm writing - yes, this is what I do for fun.  Before I got started, I wanted to bring my INBOX count down to 50 emails, if at all possible.  If I can't quickly browse through that venerable folder and get a quick understand of my outstanding issues, I start to feel swamped and overwhelmed.  It's been above 50 for a couple weeks now.  Today was no exception; over 250.  Most of the emails were either things I couldn't take care of immediately, were simply Cc's of other conversations, or things already resolved.

I'm down to 70 emails now, and I'm calling it quits for the night.  Lisa Loeb is telling me to "Stay" (I loved her in the 90's).  I could so easily continue working, since the well never runs dry.  I'm not going to listen!  No.  Count Basie will be giving me the "Roseland Shuffle" instead!

Speaking of shuffling, I've been doing a bit of that lately as well.  Running has been painful due to over-stretching my left Achilles tendon in an unfortunate downward facing dog pose following a 3 mile barefoot run.  I didn't notice the problem until later that day, but it has plagued me since.  Two weeks out, and I'm wondering how the heck I'm supposed to run a 50 miler next Fall if I can't even get out for a 3 mile jaunt.  ARG! I've managed to get to the pool for a couple of 1200m swims.  Mainly SKPs, but I think a 2-a-week schedule will help keep my conditioning up, especially as winter progresses.

And then there's the snow!  Snow!  Maybe my bum heel will allow me a bit of cross-country skiing?  Perhaps!  Time to check in to SkinnySki!


Discipline and Balance

Tonight was the first night in weeks that I've chanted.  I don't feel guilty about it, since chanting and Buddhism are tools I use to reboot my brain.  I'm benefitting from the practice, but only slightly, which is to say I have need for some general system maintenance.  Lately, I've been focused on family and running.  My recent dedication to a runstreak has given me some much needed discipline, by removing the excuses and giving me a single path: forward.

I realized something from this approach, though perhaps not directy.  Meghan recently received a record player from her mother, a cool looking thing. It is designed to look like an antique radio, though on the inside, it has a 33 speed phonograph, cassette player, and built-in radio.  With no real dedicate place for it, my butsudan -- the alter I made to hold my Dai-Gohonzon -- was bumped over to the right so they should share space on the chef's rack in the dining room.  When chanting tonight, it made me feel distinctly unbalaned.

Unbalanced, like my training, like my life. I need some more time to process this new tack.  I know how to fix the unbalanced feeling when I chant -- find a new home for either my butsudan or Meghan's record player.  I've got some ideas on how to bring balance back to everything else I do, but it'll be a challenge in time management.  Discipline may be the key factor in moving forward.  We shall see.


Fall Reflections

Tablets and Computers
So many things to do around the house and in life; just need to take it one day at a time, one task at a time.  Right now, I'm staring at a potential two or three hours backing up hosts and upgrading a workstation and server in my basement "server room" (which is really a table with a couple computers, a printer, and a really old monitor). I love having AndriodVNC, Xvnc Server, and XDMCP/X11 to get a remote desktop on my tablet.  Seems to work pretty well, though I would appreciate a working CTRL key from the keyboard to my remote session.  The same goes for ConnectBot, which has yet to incorporate the more traditional user interface.  For the most part, I think the Andriod 3.0 on the Asus Eee Transformer TF101 Tablet is pretty solid.

Yesterday was a bit of a lazy day...  Wait, no it wasn't!  Yesterday morning, I sat on my work laptop monitoring and managing GovDelivery's digest email process.  We're growing fast and upgrading clients from our older infrastructure to the newer one, and as a result, we're finding quirks with the environment, database, and software.  It's nothing we can't manage, though.  Tor, my boss, and Jesse, my coworker, both put in extra time this weekend, as well as our DBA Joe, developers Billy and Jim, and Systems Engineer Ben.  We have a pretty solid team, and they're able to pull together some effective solutions when we need them most.  I'm really feeling that this team has gelled together well in the last few weeks.

Pumpkin Man at Sever's Corn Maze

An Afternoon Break
...was in order, and Meghan's sister had a great idea in bringing the families to the Sever's Corn Maze, which sits right next to the Canterbury Downs race track and casino.  Meghan wasn't feeling well, so I took the boys down to meet Katie, Izac, and Maizie.  We arrived around 16:30 and had until 18:00 to run around and explore.  The entrance fee wasn't cheap, so if you plan on taking your family down, give yourselves more than 90 minutes, and remember to bring cash if you want to feed the animals, fling pumpkins ($2/3 pumpkins), shoot corn ($2/3 ears), ride the ponies ($5/person), or ride the Super Slide ($2 a pop).   Food wasn't necessarily cheap either, about what you would expect at a tourist attraction.  When asked what their favorite part of the day was, both answered emphatically, "Feeding the parakeets!" I think the corn pit was a close second, though.

Running, of Course!
After getting the boys fed, cleaned up, and in bed, I changed into my running gear and headed out for a quick run. I'm starting to enjoy my runs again. With this runstreak, things have gotten a bit monotonous. I can only run the same 1.2 and 3.2 mile loops in my neighborhood before I start to get bored. I tried mixing it up last week with a run out at Battle Creek Park just east of the River and south of I94 on Highway 61. I was in no hurry and didn't sweat the details, just enjoyed exploring the park for a couple of hours. Battle Creek has some challenging hills, though nothing terribly long or tall. You get some of the feel that you might have on the Superior Hiking Trail, so this will be a good place to throw in some hill repeats over trees and roots. I only saw a few mountain bikers on the trail, and ran into a group of young adventurers looking for caves. There was one young pre-teen out on the trails all by himself. He was wearing a helmet and backpack, and seemed to be enjoying himself, but I couldn't help but wonder where his parents were. Where was his riding partner? If this had been my son, he would had a serious one to one about safety. There are too many creepy people out there to leave your childrens' future to chance. In any case, I cranked out a 2.44 mile run in a little over 18 minutes, showered up, and turned back to the computer and work.

Back to Work
I spent the night on cleaning up and improving a Perl script hack to purge out queue directories we use to send transactional messages for digest users.  We had come up with a useable quick solution late Thursday night, but when scheduling it through cron, I found it taking far too long.  I also wanted to make it a "real" script in that it needed a "--help", "--verbose", and "--no-act" options, as well as a way to effectively parse input from STDIN.  I like xargs, but if you can avoid the forking cost when examining thousands of files, it's bound to speed up dramatically.  I also found a simple way of cutting the run time by a large factor; I was feeling pretty good about myself.

Dr. Who, Torchwood, and Entertainment
Meghan and I watched the season finale of Dr. Who as I was hacking in Perl; it was awesome!  I will give no spoilers, but I have to say that I'm continually impressed by the quality of acting, the solid story telling, and the engaging format of the series. I can sit down to any of the Dr. Who episodes and watch it as if I had never seen the series before, and fully enjoy myself. Unlike the new Torchwood: Miracle Day, I don't need to invest eight or more weeks into following it. Meghan and I both agree that the change in format is not as enjoyable as the solid one hour episodes with the threads of relationship between previous and following episodes that BBC favors. The American produces seem to think that the only way to gain a following is to make a huge production out of things, make it into a miniseries. I hate miniseries! I'll be happy when this whole T:MD thing is finished. I don't know what I would do without having my DVR, though. I just don't have enough interest in television these days to stay pinned to the couch at the big Network approved viewing times. Yay, technology!

Right now, I'm trying to rub out some dried hot peppers out of my eyes!  Yeouch!  I'm making some home-made, from scratch chili using dried chilis and a five pound top round roast that needed to be cooked.  It is really starting to smell wonderful, but it has another couple hours to cook in the oven.  The stovetop burner is a bit too hot, even on the lowest setting.  I could pull out the slow cooker, which might be a bit more energy efficient than the stove at this point, but I don't want to clean yet another set of dishes. It'll turn out, and paired with some home-made corn bread, I trust everyone will be satisfied. My parents are coming down for a visit, and Meghan is busy shopping. The boys are playing Wii and DS, and the sun is traveling quickly across the sky. Sooner than I would like, our weekend will be over.

I suppose its time to scrounge together some sort of lunch. Mac-n-cheese, maybe.


Is he "Just a geek"? Yes, ideed.

This isn't going to be an indepth book review, rather a quick recommendation to my fellow geek friends out there to check out "Just a geek", an autobiographical piece by Wil Wheaton.  If you're not familiar with Mr. Wheaton, well then you've been living under a rock for the last twenty or so years, and I feel sorry for you.  Wil most famously starred in Stand By Me and in Star Trek: The Next Generation as adolecent genius Wesley Crusher. Oh, poor Crusher.  Such a loved and hated character of the series, and Wil, such a tormented soul about it.  If you've been paying attention lately, Wil has become quite popular again, appearing in Iternet sensations such as The Guild, as Evil Wil on Big Bang Theory, and most recently as has been on Eureka.  Things are definitely looking up for this geeky actor, though it has been a rocky journey.

There are people out there who are unfamiliar with his body of work, including the author of the Foreward to Just a geek, Neil Gaimon.  Neil is the author of the Sandman series of graphic novels, Good Omens, a recent Dr. Who episode, and the claymation movie adaption of his children's novel Coraline.  He even recently had a celebrity spot in a season 5 episode of The Guild.  (And no, I did not have to look any of that up on the interwebz. I happen to be a fan.) He had never met Wil before, but enjoyed this book enough to introduce Wil's self-relized rediscovery.

The question remains, "Is he really a geek?" I can say, with the authority of being a geek myself, most certainly, "Yes! Wil is a geek!"  It has taken me too long to figure that out myself.  Wil earned his geek bars early on in his career when he opened his first website, eventually migrating to a blog platform.  He has been sharing his undistilled self on the internet for over ten years now, to the benefit of his fans and netziens alike.  Just a geek is a selection of his posts from Wil Wheaton dot Net and includes details that fill in the gaps, building a cohesive progression of his life.  Even if you aren't familiar with Wil's previous body of work, I have no doubt that you would quickly become a fan based on that website alone.

I don't do many book reviews, but this one is definitely worth a read.  You can also find Wil on Twitter as @wilw and G+ as himself (of course, who else can you be on G+ these days?).



Race Report: 2011 Moose Mountain Marathon

The Morning Before and Trip Up
Friday morning started out beautifully. It was my youngest son Ryan's first day of school, and at four years of age, he was certainly ready to venture out of the house and into the world of education. Smart little bugger, and cute as a button, he was excited to go. Connor was to have a short day at school, just two hours, but I didn't want him to miss his first week of first grade. That time is so crucial for children to get acquainted with their peers, and besides, a couple hours without children in the house would make packing easier. O.K. That's not really true. I was willing to take both of my boys out of school and head up a day early, but Meghan would have nothing of it! As a teacher, she couldn't fathom having her own child miss his first day of school! I went with it.

The alarm clock buzzed eight o'clock, and I quickly put on my running gear to take care of my runstreak obligations. The loop around the neighborhood was a standard 1.2 miles, and I finished it on a easy lope. Meghan wasn't feeling very well, but she loaded Ryan into the van and took him to school. After a quick shower and breakfast, I loaded Connor into the car and dropped him off, stopping in the office to let them know I would be picking him up early. I had a quick errand to run: pick up some Gu at a local running store. Since I was so close to Grand Avenue, I drove over to the Running Room, only to be shut down by the time of day. They weren't yet open, and I couldn't wait around while good packing time was to be had.

At home, Meghan wasn't feeling well at all, and packing her things and the kids' things was taking longer than she hoped. I told her to take her time as I gathered the things I needed for the trip. We had planned on packing up the van by 11:20, picking up Connor at 11:30, picking up Ryan at 12:15, and heading directly north from there. Time just wasn't on our side, and Meghan needed time to recover and pack. I decided to pick up both boys, then return home to see how she was doing. When we did swing back around to the house, she was still feeling poorly but well enough to go.  Off to Tofte!

Connor, contemplating what to eat.
Ryan loves his chocolate milk
Seafood and pasta! Nom, nom, nom.
The drive up was relaxing, though slow due to the seemingly constant construction along I35. We may have made one stop on our way to Duluth, and stopped for dinner at Black Woods Bar and Grill on London Road some time around 16:30. The place was deserted except for the retirement crowd, as Meghan pointed out. The food was delicious, and the portions were more than generous. Meghan and I split a chocolate cake that was the size of a small dinner plate. It was so rich that the only thing saving our pallets was the ice cream scoop I ordered.
Monster chocolate cake

We got back on the road after letting Peter, our Boston Terrier, out for a break and after I grabbed a quick stretch on the Yoga mat, tending my aching hip and knee. I was a bit worried that if I didn't take care of it now, I wouldn't do well in the race at all. The way up was barred with more construction, of course. I wouldn't be making it for packet pickup or debriefing, and wasn't going to have time to visit any aid stations to see if I could catch Adam Schwartz-Lowe or Brian Woods.

We arrived at Chalet LeVeaux right around 19:00. The sun was setting, and we were all anxious to get out of the van. It was a cozy little den of an apartment, with a bedroom, living room, kitchen and private bath. At $433 for two nights, it wasn't terribly expensive - better than the published rates for Caribou Lodge (though I know hear there was a discount for runners that may have made the comparison more favorable). The one element that Caribou did not have that I absolutely loved was the Lakeside view and walkout patio. The groomed lawn sported clean lawn furniture and a fire pit and an amazing view of Lake Superior. Peter enjoyed exploring his new digs, and the boys were excited about the idea of sleeping on the pullout! I could have gone cheaper, perhaps even much so, but I wanted Meghan and the kids to have fun while I was off running.

I was still trying to think of a way to get the van back to the Chalet in the morning, since there was no shuttle service, and when I asked about taxis, the hotel staff looked at me as if I were daft. Oh well. I would have to wing it. I figured that my worst and only time for a marathon run was 5:45 at Grandma's last year due to a bum knee and ITBS. I felt I was in much better shapen now, and I had a good chance of meeting or beating that time, even if this was the most grueling course on the planet. I jotted down on a piece of paper, "1:00 to 2:00 PM finish". I promised Meghan that I would text and Tweet as much as I could on the course, so Meghan would have some idea about when and where I was, but I couldn't guarantee coverage.

Sleep was fleeting throughout the night. The boys wouldn't stop talking to each other, so we split them up. Connor was a heavy sleeper, so he joined me in the bed, while Meghan slept on the pull-out with Ryan (Thank you, thank you, thank you, Meghan!). Even with a quiet apartment, I tossed and turned. When I did finally sleep, I woke up multiple times throughout the night, ready to get up and run, only to find that I was 4, 3, and 2 hours away from when I needed to wake up. Finally, at 5:30, I said enough was enough and got ready.
Volunteer at the finish line - whom I should have remembered her name!

Race Day
Caribou Lodge was only minutes away, and I was soon strolling over to the finish line. John (I don't know his last name) was there with a woman volunteer that looked like she knew her way around the course (I didn't catch her name - I'm horrible at such things). I was told that the check-in and packet pickup had moved to the starting line instead. That made since, since everyone had to check in anyway for safety reasons. Also at the starting line was a woman I had met at Zumbro 2010. She had been running constantly since, even doig solo trail runs south from Canada on the Superior Hiking Trail. Her experience would pay off later. (If only I can remember her name... Seriously, am I daft?)
Another runner, trying to check in.
Hello, woman whose name I continue to forget.

There were rumors that John Horns was on a pace to set a course record, that Adam was in third place about two hours back.  I waited at the finish, but when there was no John by 06:30, I went off to find a warm place to hole up and wait for the bus driver. It was seriously chilly out there in just my warm-up jacket. I had a plan to get the van back to Chalet LeVeaux, convinced the bus driver to stop at the Chalet so I could drop off the van then hop on board. She was receptive, but hesitant, stating that she didn't really know where she was going and didn't want to get off the main track. I was stoked, but after a few moments sitting in my van mulling it over, I felt that I would be taking advantage of her volunteer service. I didn't want to make her feel uncomfortable nor set a precident for other runners to make the same request next year. I parked the van and reboarded the bus, letting her know not to worry about it.

Cramer Road - The Start!
There was an advantage to being on the bus, it gave you an opportunity to chat with some of the other runners before hitting the trail. I talked with two other runners, both from the Cities area, on the way down. Everyone was in high spirits, and one runner stated he planned on finishing in four hours! That was quite a goal, but who knows, maybe he could pull it off. The check-in line at Cramer Road gave me an opportunity to chat a little with Dusty Olson (though I wasn't entirely confident it was him). I also talked to a father and son pair, the father more talkative, while the son quietly smiled and acknowledged facts. I also ran into Steve (last name), whom I had run with in the Spring 25k. We quickly agreed to pace each other and made our way to the road.  There, I bumped in to Greg and Curtis, fellow DailyMile'ers. Everyone was excited to get started!
Greg and Curtis from DailyMile.com!
I have one more person that I absolutely have to include in this recollection, Joe Weise from Ely.  I met him this Spring at the 25K run both before and after the race.  His enthusiasm is infectious and he's always smiling.  We talked about minimalistic running and shoe strategies before the race started, and I swear he's lost weight since April.  You're looking good Joe!

And... Go!
Race director John Storkamp gave us the quick and dirty explanation of the trail, the flags, and the reason for registering everyone that morning: safety. The start was an entirely uneventful, "Ok. Go." Runners laughed and started to follow Larry Pederson in his truck for a short drive up the road and a loop back on to the single-track trail. It gave the 150 runners a chance to spread out before entering the single-track trail. Steve and I found an easy pace in the middle of the pack, and getting on to the trail was pretty smooth. Trail conversation began, as we all started to joke with each other. Seven tenths of a mile later, we passed the aid station with cheers and smiling faces. It was so cool to be back on the trail.
John gives us the quick and dirty...

The first section was a hefty 7.8 miles that had some really gnarly roots and rocks to deal with, and a few peaks to climb. The dangers of a trail run aren't always at your feet, sometimes they're at your head. We had almost finished the first leg of the race, approaching the Temperance aid station. I was looking down at my feet and getting ready to jump over a branch, when I looked and noticed that my face was headed straight for an eight inch diameter tree stump! At the last second, I jerked my head to the left and avoided the collision! I was too stunned to say anything, and Steve also barely missed the hazard. We laughed it off and yelled, "Tree!", but I think we were both shaken up a bit. At Temperance Aid Station, we began stocking up when A few minutes later, a tall runner walked in sporting a gash on his head and a large blood stain drippping down into his eye! Ouch!

Steve and I didn't spend a lot of time at the aid station and were a little confused about which direction to go. Some kind folks pointed out the trail entrance, and we were on our way. We caught up with a young runner by the name of Nat out of the Cities area. We talked about brewing, running, and making your own energy gels. Anything to pass the time, really. We passed a couple of 100 mile marathoners on the way down the Temperance River, and Nat stopped to talk. He would later catch up and pass me as if I were standing still.

At some point after getting much of the way back up Temperance, I took a walking break to consume a gel, take a salt tablet, and text to Meghan and Twitter. Steve continued on ahead, and I focused on my phone. "At 10 miles in 2 he's.[sic] Carlton peak in 2 miles. #straces" I had meant to say "2 hrs", but I autocorrect thought I was misspelling it. There was no signal out on the trail, but I thought I might get luck on a peak or two and send out the messages. At worst, they would all send when I made it back to a radio tower near the road.

I knew Carlton was going to be tough, but I had little understanding as to how slow it would be to hike to the top! Wow! The following two pictures were taken from the same point, one facing up and one facing down.

Carlton Peak, looking up.
Same spot, looking down.

On my way up, I had passed a woman runner, but as I crested the peak, she shot on by looking strong. She had run the 50k Spring race and indicated that this was the point in which they turned back around and headed north back to Lutsen. The rest of the trail was familiar to her, and she gave me some pointers and insight as to what to expect. It was a huge sense of relief to me to know that most of the way to Sawbill-Britton would be downhill. I needed the break. I tried to let my hips open up and carry me down the hill, but there were so many roots, it was hard to keep up the pace.

I met up with Steve at Sawbill-Britton Aid Station, though he had arrived some five minutes ahead of me. We ate oranges, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, banannas and snacks. We filled up on water, and when Steve headed back out on the trail, I turned back to my phone to text again: "At Brighton[sic] peak aid station. Halfway there. 11:00. Beautiful out. 3 hours left or more. #straces". I was still in pretty good spirits at this point and started out in a trot.

As with any race, you chat with your fellow runners, and it was here that I learned that this was the "easier" stretch of the race. I understood soon how relative that adjective was. Tired, sore, starting to cramp up I hit my emotional low-points of the race. There were no easy stretches on this track of roots and rocks, ups and downs. Tiny little pains in my knee and hip were constant reminders that the old injury could flare up at any minute. Knowing this, I reflected upon the goals I had set for myself this year. I had completed two trail 25Ks, an 8K PR, a 2 mile PR during a triathlon in the Spring, finished in a respectable time in my first "real" triathlon, ran Ragnar Relay with my friends, and was here in the middle of the most challenging run of my life. It had been a hell of a season. Yes, I could live with myself. I would try to continue if I could, but I would feel no guilt if I had to drop out. That fearful, familiar ache never materialized, just the consistent, entire body fatigue and muscle soreness.

Oberg Mountain and a Great Motivator
When I arrived at Oberg Mountain, I didn't immediatly seek ou the race director to drop, rather walked over to the table and started to restock. This is how I remember the conversation going, but know I'm paraphrasing at best. Brian Peterson of the TC Running Room team was manning the station and asked, "Do you need anything?"

"Sure, some water. What's your name?"

"Brian Peterson. How are you feeling?"

"Tired enough to think about dropping." I smiled. Smiled?

"You're not dropping yet."


"No. You're looking strong." He said a few more entirely encouraging and simply delivered pieces of sage advise while another volunteer was restocking my water. I just remember my answers to questions weren't entirely quick. I was somewhere in my head, thinking about dropping. Brian helped another racer, and I drank some water. I crouched to the ground on my toes and hung my head down to rest a moment. Why didn't I sit? I could, but I didn't want to.

"Hey, can I get you anything?" someone asked again.

"Here, why don't you stand up. Come on."

"No sitting, huh?"

"Nope. Not yet. Can I get you anything?"

"Ginger Ale, I think."

He handed me the pop and offered to walk me out of the aid station. He encouraged me and reminded me that there was only seven miles left. "Hike the hills and run the flats.  Everyone is hiking today." he said.

"What's your name again?" I was determined to remember his.


"Thanks, Brian."

I knew he was right about hiking, but I also knew what was coming: not one, but two of the biggest mountains of the run. At the time, I thought one was called Magic Mountain and the second was Moose Mountain. I later learned that it was Moose Mountain and Mystery Mountain. Regardless, I had no doubt it would take me at least two hours to finish the last leg. I texted: "Brian at Oberg. thanks for the motivation. leaving at 12:40 #straces 7.1 miles left."

The climb began immediately, and I also immediately took a wrong turn, heading up to the peak of Oberg Mountain! About a quarter mile up, a group of hikers stated, "You're going the wrong way!" I started to make my way down and stopped another runner from making the same mistake. We trotted back down the hill and turned to the left. We would trade turns passing each other for the next couple of miles. She would pass me on the uphills, and I would pass her on the downhills. My thighs were burning horribly and starting to cramp, so I shifted to using my hip flexors in a pseudo stiff-legged walk. It helped reserve my strength and avoid any real charlie horses. On the flats and downhills, I focused on ChiRunning methods, pointing my knees down, picking up my heels, and swiveling at the hips. "Cotton and Steel." I managed to actually run much more than I thought possible at this point.

I spent some more time thinking about my long term goals. I often say that I want to complete a 100 mile marathon by the time I'm 40, inspired by my friends Adam Schwartz-Lowe and Brian Woods, both of which were running Sawtooth at that very moment (Adam had completed by then, actually). If 24+ hours of running is truly my goal, I needed to learn to cope with being on my feet even when I don't want to be. I had given myself permission to drop, and ironically it made it easier to keep going. I wasn't worried about whether or not I would finish, since I was already past the point of no return. I wanted to run a 100, so damnit I would finish a mere 26.2 if I had to crawl there.

But there was no crawling involved. In fact, I continued to hike and run, hike and run. When I finally crested Mystery Mountain, my spirits soared. I didn't truly believe that there were no more uphills, but the downhill continued to carry me ever closer. I walked a few of the flats, catching my breath between the downhill runs. Then it happened; I heard the roaring of the Poplar River! What a sound! Wahoo!

I crossed the bridge with a big grin and noticed a runner on the other side taking a breather. I asked him how he was doing, and he confided in me that he was having problems with charlie horses. "Half a kilometer! We can do this!" I said, pointing to the sign and giving him a fist bump. Bob was from Minneapolis area and was running his longest trail run to date. He was 27 years old, and had spent the last eight years of his life in the military, returning from Iraq a year ago. He was strong and determined, and I heard no more about his legs. We set ourselves on an easy run and enjoyed the rest of the flat run.

This was the stretch that Jason helped me most on in the Spring, and somehow I had found someone else who was just as determined to "finish it how i started". I admire people with such drive. As we approached the finish line, he had family and friends cheering him on. The ruts in the road made it easier to treat it like a single track, and I dropped a little behind, but he waited for me. It was obvious that he wanted to finish together, but I pushed him forward. "Go, go, go. You go first!" Everyone was cheering, and I thought with a smile, "You deserve it."

When I did pass the finish line a second later, Larry Pedersen handed me my finishing token, a biased cut branch with the Moose Mountain Marathon logo burned on the surface, and congratulated me. I felt honored to be awarded by someone who has given so much to the sport. I saw Adam sitting at bench right at the finish, and he cheered me on, inviting me to sit down. On my way over, I started to have a slight asthma attack, which puzzled me. I had no allergy problems the entire run, and now that I had finished, I was having a hard time breathing? I went over to a wall and stretched my arms up to pull open my diaphragm. I made my way to the picinic table where Amy and Adam sat, vowing not to lie down. The last two races where I did, I cramped up so badly I couldn't move. Adam encouraged me to drink a lot of fluids and pointed out the lemonade. It was cold, sour, sweet, and oh so freaking good. I drank four pints in short order. I hadn't paid close attention to when I finished, and Adam informed me "about 6:45". I'm going with it. I sat there and talked shop with a couple of other runners, who had lots of questions for Adam. He quietly answered them with humble grace.

When I walked over to the conference room to pick up my sandwhich, I walked past Dusty Olson (again, who I hadn't been confident was actually Dusty, but didn't ask his name to confirm) and asked him if he finished. "Hell yeah!" he replied. "Nice!" I replied and high-5'ed him. I wasn't until later that I learned he had finished the marathon course in 3:40! No kidding, "Hell yeah"?! I'm constantly impressed by trail runners. Dusty was so easy to talk to. You can tell he just loves the sport and the people in it.

About 30 minutes into my recovery, I really wanted to get back to my famiy at Chalet LeVeaux and share news of the finish! Getting in the van was a little challenge, but I didn't cramp up too badly. Meghan congratulated me and noticed that my lips were purple, PURPLE! What the heck? After a quick shower, I grabbed a beer and went to the pool room with the boys to relax in the whirlpool. The warm water was so nice on my aching legs. Afterwards, we grabbed dinner at Moguls Bar and Grill back up at Caribou Lodge where I had a "husband fail" for not introducing Meghan to Adam. He walked by in the restaurant, and I called him over. We chatted a bit, and he headed over to the table with his wife and friends. DOH! I thought they had known each other already, since I've known Adam for many years now. Oops.

I would like to close with a congratulations and salutation to the other runners, volunteers, and race director...  Special thanks to Brian Peterson at the Oberg Aid Station. He knew just the right things to say and in the right way. You were awesome, Brian.  Brilliant, even. I also want to thank family for putting up with my insane hobby.

I'll be back, Superior Hiking Trail, and next time I'll be running the 50!


Thirty Days of Running, Hacking, and Other Things

Good evening, everyone!  It is now 20:42 on Sunday night, the 4th of September, 2011 and a gorgeous one at that. Fall is finally here! Sweatshirt weather is just around the corner, and what I consider the most comfortable season to be outside. Summer can be fun, but the muggy heat in Minnesota can be a bit too much to handle.  An air conditioned house or a day on the beach are the only option for respite worthy of mention.  It doesn't stop runners, though, despite the sweat inducing humidity.  Our runs migrate from mid-afternoon to early morning, which mine most certainly did.

I think the most important factor to this shift in schedule was priority and time.  I had finally made running itself a priority, and had given it the attention it deserved. If I waited until mid-afternoon, I wasn't guaranteed the time off from work. Production issues, high priority demands, time-dependent reports -- all quite necessary and important -- simply edged out any free time I might like to use.  I could never "get out early" enough to fit a workout in before heading home, even if I did show up at 07:00 in the morning.  There was always something more important.

Evenings were for family, for cooking and playing the Wii (or at least sitting on the couch) with my boys. This is always followed up with my fatherly duties of putting the children to bed, which I tend to drag out.  With no other distractions, I get to play with Connor and Ryan a bit.  I don't ever want to give up that time.

Late evening quickly approaches, with time going to cleaning the kitchen and finally settling down for private time. The last thing I want to do is head out for a run. Night running can be relaxing, but I'm usually already tired. So, the morning run has been getting a lot more attention lately, and I think the shift is a good one. Until the temperature dips down into the single digits, I'll probably stick with it.

After thirty days (thirty one now - 9/5), I have to say that I'm definitely enjoying this runstreaking! I love seeing that weekly bargraph on Dailymile.com fully populated. I've experienced some sore arches along the way, and my left tensor facia latae and illotibial band have made their discomfort known. With yoga and 'off' days of a single mile, I've been able to keep injury at bay.

I'm pretty excited about this upcoming weekend, where I'll be taking on the Moose Mountain Marathon. 26.2 miles along the Superior Hiking Trail, some of the gnarliest elevation changes and tree roots around. I'm stoked! My New Balance MT101's are itching to get back out on the trail for some serious work! Wish me luck!



runstreak - n. A number of consecutive days, typically 365 days, in which an athlete runs at least one mile each day.
I've been racking my brain for a way to stay motivated and consistent with training, and although signing up for races has its own inherent value for forcing a schedule, it doesn't seem enough to get me out there with reliability.  For the last 316 days, I've been following an author and runner by the name of Tim Cigelske, otherwise known as The Beer Runner blogger for Draft Magazine, during his pursuit of this seemingly intangible goal.  A couple of months ago, Tim issued a challenge on bolder.com.  If 30 people accepted the challenge to run for five days consecutively, he would run a Beer Mile.
Beer Mile - n. Run a total of one mile as quickly as you can, stopping every quarter of a mile to drink a serving of beer. (Presumeably after having a few beers already. Why else would you volunteer to do such a thing?)
Tim's challenge was accepted by over 60 people, and he obligingly ran an astoundingly successful, and I'm sure eventful Beer Mile. I hadn't given it much thought other than a passing fancy, could I run 365 days?  With much of July having slipped away without any real improvement in my base mileage, and a relatively good but not stellar showing at the inaugral Graniteman Triathlon Big Lake (sprint distance), I felt I needed something concrete, something tangible to help drive me forward.
It wasn't until the day after the triathlon that the plan formed.  I knew I needed to do something to prepare me for Moose Mountain Marathon on September 10th, something that would get me out the door every day, regardless of how I felt.. I need to strengthen this weak and tense tensor faciae latae into something I can rely upon for 26.2 miles of hilly, rocky, and rooted trails.
That night, while browsing my Twitter feed, I saw that people were still taking Tim up on his challenge, long after he completed his Beer Mile.  I thought, simply enough, 'Why the hell not?"  I had just completed a seven mile run that afternoon, so technically I was already two days into my runstreak.  From that day forward, it was no longer a question of if I run, rather how far do I go?  Even that answer is easy: at least one mile.


What to eat? A Food Recipe Challenge!

In his recent blog post titled, "Learn from Success, Not Failure", author and runner Matthew Patten wrote about a recent conversation he had with someone unsuccessful in their own diet giving him advice on his. Whereas he focused the article on the nature of relationships and where to seek advise base on success or failure in a given subject matter, I couldn't shake the topic of his introductory discussion: diet.

I've been reading up and focusing on diets, the number and variety, over the last week or so. In part for my own edification, but also to understand what my wife is going through. The theories and strategies people employ are innumerable, confusing, contradictory, and even fanatical.  What I assume is "unhealthy" is "scientifically proven" to not only be healthy, but is the way everyone should eat.  Atkins, Paleo, Archevore (Paleo 2.0), South Beach, or something else?  The Hacker's Diet?  What should Meghan be following?

Perhaps the quotes around "scientifically proven" is a bit unfair, since food and diet is probably one of the largest and most prolific bodies of work in the science field.  What I generally have an issue with is how people use and interpret this information, which is often done to push a specific viewpoint or opinion.  With the advent of the internet, information is more readily available to the common person than any other time in history.  How does one approach such a vast set of knowledge and opinion?  How can the gems of objectivity be separated from cruft of subjective opinion?

To frame the discussion, I want to start out with a simple, commonly understood formula regarding weight change:
pounds in weight change = (Calories in - Calories out)/3500
Food Calories are actually kilogram calories (or 1000 calories per gram), but in the interest of brevity, the food industry has chosen to drop the appropriate prefix of kilo.  Maybe it sounded too metric for the American public.  The number 3500 is the estimated number of Calories per pound of human fat.  Calories in are the result of consumption, and Calories out are the result of those burned simply living (eating, sleeping, sitting on the couch) as well as any other exercise or activity you partake in (running, walking to the car, etc).

That's the whole discussion in a nutshell.  To lose weight, you eat less or burn more.  To gain weight, you eat more or burn less.  All diets are ultimately dependent upon this formula, though not all diets focus on it.  In fact, there are very intricate shell games being played in many diets, perhaps to take people's minds off the task at hand, make the "math" easier, or give them a "cheat" every once and a while, a reward.

Some diets play physiological games, forcing your body to change the preferred metabolic pathway to energy.  Atkins forces the initiate into a fatty acid cycle by inducing ketosis in the first two weeks of the diet - denying all but the equivalent of a single banana (27 grams) each day in carbohydrates (max 24 grams).  Given that carbs exist in pretty much every food item, including lean animal meat, you're on an all fat/protein diet for two weeks.

Runners and predominantly aerobic athletes are fortunate to enjoy a sport that requires long a calorie burn.  We equally exercise the glycolitic pathway as (carbs) well as the fatty acid pathway (fats), but we have an entirely different initiation phase... running, running, and more running.  Our benefit is that the "simple formula" of calories in v.s. calories out becomes an afterthought. We're always running, always burning, and in some cases, can't eat enough to keep our weight up. (One of my problems last year.)

So is there something to the whole discussion about "good foods" and "bad foods"?  Is there really something we should be eating v.s. something we shouldn't?  Lots of fat and protein v.s. lots of carbs.  We all want an answer to these questions, but we don't always get them, or rather we get too many of them.  How do you begin to contribute to the discussion without sounding like an advocate or fanatic?

The Challenge
I have an idea, a challenge that will result in an exchanging of tasty knowledge. 
  • Pick a food item and discover the basic nutritional information about it.
  • Take a week and make that food a focus of your meals, discovering or creating four recipes or ways to prepare that item:
    • breakfast
    • lunch
    • dinner
    • snack or desert
  • Optional: Add in the calorie profile for each recipe per serving.
  • Optional: Cheat and reference a recipe from the internet (but give due credit)!
  • Let us know about your approach to diet and why it works (or doesn't work) for you.
I look forward to hearing about what you bring to the table!


Race Report: 2011 Afton 25k Trail Race Report (Long Overdue)

[Originally posted on DailyMile.com]

What a brutal race (but fun)! This is my second 25k trail race this year, and it was by far the more challenging of the two. As some of you may know, the State of Minnesota shut down and as a result, the State Parks were also shut down. Race Director John Storekamp and volunteers did an awesome job prepping 2 (yes two) race courses for the event. When it was clear that we wouldn't be able to run Afton State Park, Afton Alps Ski Resort let us use their mountain bike trail!

I can't say enough how awesome this race was. It was gnarly. It was hot. The volunteers were professional, helpful, and great. I started out far too fast (of course), and soon found myself sucking wind. I just was not prepared for the insane elevation changes, and I've never run so many switchbacks in my life! I am not ashamed to say I walked, a lot. Cardio-wise, I was fine once I backed the pace down. Where I lacked was in leg strength and endurance.

I also made a mess-up in not taking in enough salt and electrolytes. I had two 20oz bottles of nuun, but it's sometimes a bit sweet, and I don't always drink enough liquid to ensure I've taken enough salts. When I finished the race, my whole body was buzzing from effort and lack of electrolytes. I laid down in the grass and put my feet up on a picnic table bench, and when I tried to get up 10 minutes later, both quads cramped up. OUCH!

I would definitely do it again! :) Here's a Shout Out to Brian Woods and Adam S. for their work volunteering at the race! Thanks, so much!

Final Results: Placed 121 of 236 with a time of 3:20:26 (12:55/mile).

Footnotes in the Results PDF: (REVISED COURSE - 2011 was a revised course from previous years due to the Minnesota State Government Shutdown which closed Minnesota State Parks.  An alternate location was used for the race - Afton Alps Recreation area.  This was 7.75 mile loop and was a more difficult course than the normal course which resulted in slower than normal times.)


What to Buy a Geeky Runner Dad?

It would be so easy to rack up a large balance on my credit card, to buy the toys and essentials that a geeky dad might like to have.  On the other hand, I'm relatively frugal, perhaps a miser when it comes to spending money.  With Father's day this weekend and my birthday coming up in July, I figured I would list a few of the things I've been eyeing and restraining myself from buying!

Guitar Lessons, JamPlay Style
About 10 years ago, I bought a Mitchel acoustic guitar from Guitar Center with the intent of being proficient enough to play a song or two.  You would think that in 10 years, I would have picked up some substantial skills.  Alas, the opposite is true, I know barely enough to strum a few chords and pick a few measly licks.  JamPlay is an online guitar lesson site that I've been very impressed with.  At $19.95/month or $139.95/year, it is quite affordable and offers a lot more flexibility than in-person lessons. (Visit the Store for a gift card!)

ASUS Andriod Eee Transformer Tablet!
This tablet is by far the coolest thing I've seen in quite some time. It's a 10" multi-touch tablet with Wifi, GPS, accelerometer, 32GB of memory, and touts the Andriod 3.0 operating system, the same one that runs on my hacked MyTouch 4G phone.  Why not an iPad2, you ask?  Apple just isn't my thing, I guess.  I've been a Linux geek for too long to look back now.

What sets this tablet apart from other devices out there?  There's a detachable  keyboard and battery (purchased separately) that converts the tablet into a laptop! There are times when I like to have a keyboard, and times when I don't.  This manages to do both!  Trust me.  So cool!  It's a bit expensive, though... I may end up just having to save for a while to buy this one.

Learning Chinese from a Pod
Really, you ask?  Chinese?  Yes!  I don't know how to really explain it other than that general desire to continue learning, exploring, and connecting with other people.  What better way to do this than to learn the language and eventually travel there!

I have fortunately found a very good website for this very task: ChinesePod!  My free trial account (which I encourage you to do as well) has long since expired, but I learned what I needed to know: it is a quality program that offers downloadable content, interactive on-line lessons, a supportive community, and access to teachers!

The Basic package costs about $14/month, but the Premium package at $29/month includes a cool Andriod application!  I haven't found a way to purchase these as Gift Cards, but it's still a cool site that I would love to subscribe to.

Running Gear
What kind of runner wish list would this be without some running gear?!  First up, the "Ultimate Direction FastDraw Plus Handheld Bottle", now on sale for $13.95 at Zombierunner.com.  I'm enjoying my Nathan waist pack, but as with all waist packs, they get a bit annoying, bouncing all around.  It isn't until after about 30 minutes of running does it seem to settle in, or perhaps I don't find it as annoying by that time.  Regardless, I'm starting to dig the idea of running with less around the waist and having the bottles in my hands.  A pair of these would allow me to try that out!  You would be enabling scientific experimentation!  O.K. Perhaps it would be more subjective observation.

The next item on my running gear wishlist is this cool adaption from Hydrapak called the GelBot.  Yeah, I know, how many water bottles can a man have?  Just check it out:

I have to admit, I grabbed this idea from trail runner Scott Dunlap's blog about this very product.  I'm not a big fan of the litter you create by using gel packs, so if there's a way I can be more "green", I'll do it!  Combine the FastDraw bottle holders with the GelBot bottles, and you have a fast exchange at aid stations and no trash!

Now, I haven't put on enough miles to think about using this next product for unsupported runs just yet, but I do run as a mode of commuting to work, and I'll be ramping up this effort this summer.  However, it often means I have to carry my clothes or rain gear with me.  I can leave certain items at work or the YMCA locker room, but I can't always plan ahead for these things.  I would love a flyweight or midweight fast-pack. I did find this useful review article from Running Times that's more to the point.  The Osprey Talon 33 looks more to my liking!

Another item by Nathan Sports would help me out quite a bit, actually, a smart-phone armband called Frequency.  I use my Andriod phone for its GPS, music playlist, and periodically a picture here and there.  The GPS isn't all that accurate when taken from my waist pack, though.

The Wallet That Beats All
I did buy myself an early gift, a new wallet from ALL-ETT.  It's a simpler than most, with only four pockets for credit cards, and two sleeves.  One is larger for receipts, and one for cash.  Made out of nylon spinnaker cloth, the same material they make sails out of, it is extremely lightweight, durable, and water resistant.  This is my third one in about seven or eight years.  Don't tell my dad yet, but I bought him one too!

Happy Father's Day!
I'd say that's a pretty good list for now.  I'm hungry and tired, and it's time for bed!  Enjoy your Father's Day weekend, running dads. I hope you spotted something useful in this list and can give a big hint to your loved ones!


Race Report: 2011 Spring Superior Trail Race 25K

(Image from STR Website, without permission.)
What a blast!  For my first trail race, I couldn't have picked a more technical and beautiful trail to run!  Jason, a friend and runner, and I agreed ahead of time that we would try to run the race together, just enjoying the experience and give each other support along the way.  The plan worked beautifully, and I believe I am fully hooked on trail racing now.

The weekend started with me leaving work early on Friday to head home and pack.  I was to meet my parents at 3:00 PM in Hinkley, MN to drop off my car and carpool with them up to Grand Marais.  I had made good time in the car and was only a couple of minutes late.  We stopped by Dairy Queen for a late lunch and headed North.  We did catch an outstanding meal in Beaver Bay at a little place called Northern Lights Cafe.  I had the Norwegian Salmon with a mango fruit salsa, greens, bread, and garlic herbed butter.  Yum!

We continued North and stopped by the Onion River Road, where the Oberg mountain turn-around was locate, and at Caribou Heights to scope out the Start and Finish lines for the race.  They were very close to each other by car, so Mom and Dad would have no problems driving to Oberg to meet me at the half way point during the race.

It was a lot of fun spending time with my parents on the road.  We hadn't "road tripped" since I was probably in college or even high school, so we were able to catch up on all matters of old and new family news.  We crashed that night at the Best Western, right on the lake for a somewhat restful night.  I tossed and turned a bit, but I managed to sleep through most of it.

Jason and I met up at the starting line the morning of the race.  We both debated with ourselves about what clothes to wear and equipment to carry for the trip.  Jason tried a jog test on a new waist belt he had just purchased, but it bounced around like crazy.  He opted to simply carry his water bottle as I had planned.  I put on my fuel belt to carry my phone, which I planned on taking pictures with and perhaps stuff some gels into.  I had two additional water bottles, small ones, just in case my large one ran out.

Jason and I have similar plans for pace, and we set at a comfortable speed, if not a bit optimistic.  My legs felt fresh and strong for much of the first half of the race, and we fell into pace with a small group of runners: Kelly, Kim, Ed, Jim and Steve.  Things went well for our group, as we called out branches, trees, rocks, and other hazards for those running behind.  Positions shifted more out of courtesy and safety than competitive spirit, but at some point, I found myself out front.

The next thing I knew, I had picked up my pace and was flying along the trail.  What a feeling!  We had come off of a long ascent and were on the back side of the hill, running down some long switch backs and into to some boggy areas with plank bridges.  Whooosh!  The scenery flew by, and I believe I yelled some profanity comparing the hell that is road racing verses the beauty of the trail.  I whooped and hollered, and had another runner doing the same in short order!  I made some drastically good time, and even though I walked up Oberg Mountain, my legs still felt pretty strong.

I ran in to the Oberg Mountain aid station feeling fresh, but I took my time there, eating potatoes in salt and grabbing some more water.  Jason wasn't far behind, and he saw that I wanted to get going again.  He loaded up on a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich and a banana.  In hindsight, I should have fueled up more, but I wasn't expecting two and a half hours of running to sap me out badly.

My parents were waiting at the aid station, and they were having a great time talking to other parents and spectators.  They told me of a woman they met who was crewing for her boyfriend, a pacer for the famed Scott Jurek.  They didn't catch his name, but I'll take a look at the roster to see if I can't figure it out (could it be Dusty Olson?).  She asked about me, and Mom and Dad filled her in about my Grandma's race.  When she learned that this was my first trail race, she declared that I would be hooked.

When I saw them, I quickly handed them my coat and fuel belt. I wanted to take on the second half without them.  When Jason entered the aid station, he left his coat with them, too. They didn't realize it, but I had just enlisted them as my crew. :)  They told me about the declaration, and I grinned affirmation.  Yes, I think I'm hooked.

Right away on our return trip, I recognized my mistake in pushing it so early in the race.  My legs were drained.  Jason, Steve, and I plodded on and back into the woods, up the hills that I had just blasted down.  My left hip was starting to fatigue, followed a few miles later by my right hip.  Jason was tired and trying to look around at the scenery to enjoy himself a bit, but each time he let his mind wander, he would trip. He had dropped back at one point, and I thought I had lost him for a while.  Steve and I talked some more, and he was kind enough to share a Hammer gel with me -- since I had forgotten to grab some for the run back.  It definitely helped.

Jason soon rejoined us, and Steve went off ahead shortly after Jason tripped badly one more time.  Jason and I slowed down to a walk for much of the switch backs in the last three miles of the race.  Better safe and slower than fast and broken.  We stopped at a summit overlooking the hills and valleys for a picture, and Ed joined us for the picture.  We again stopped at the bridge right off Poplar River that runs past Caribou Heights.  I tightened up the laces on my shoes, since they were feeling really sloppy.  I was beginning to feel the heat of blisters forming and lamented the fact that I should have done this adjustment back at Oberg.

The last half mile of the run was all road, and for some reason, my body was giving up.  I just couldn't keep going.  I wanted to stop and walk, but with Jason's encouragement, I kept going.  One stride at a time, we kept on jogging right up to the finish line.  We held our hands up and crossed the finish line together in 2:55:20!

At the finish line! (Photo courtesy of Jason Tintes.)

We hung out at the finish line, and my parents went to the lodge to get some food.  There was chili, fruit, and water for the racers, and I downed an entire orange in about two minutes.  I was so famished!  I had laid down in a grassy patch in front of the conference room with my water to let my body recover, but when I tried to get back up, my hip flexor cramped up, twice!  About fifteen minutes later, my thigh cramped up!  I definitely left all my energy out there on the trail!

Would I do it again?  Hell yes!  The wheels in my head are now turning over the new data as I start to plan trail training runs and camping!