Thursday, March 22, 2012

Everything But Kitchen Sink

This blog entry is just a stream of stream of consciousness to get some items covered. First up, the injury update.

The left calf/ankle issue continues to be bothersome. I am swimming and biking but simply cannot run. I can't push off without having pain. There is limited, bearable, pain when climbing while on the bike. So I continue to rest it. Ice it. Compress. If it has not sufficiently healed by the time I return from London, I'll be heading into the doctors office.

Because of the injury, I skipped the St. Patrick's Day 5K in Fargo on March 17. This was tough to swallow as I had that event circled as a A-Event. Sometimes, life just rains on your parade. For the curious, the results for this race are here. Congrats to Fargo Running Company owner (and fellow Fargo Running Company race team member) Cley Twigg for taking first overall. By the looks of things, it looked like quite the event.

The 5K lead off the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Fargo

Also because of the injury, it is all but certain that I will not be competing in London for the second year in a row after signing up for an event. This also hurts. I'm starting to wonder if I will ever get the chance to compete internationally or if I'm somehow cursed in this regard.

In taking a look back at the Treadmill 1 Mile World Championship, held at Gear West Ski & Run the first weekend of March, I can share a bit more with you. If you missed the race recap, you can find it here.  And results are listed here.

Carrie Tollefson was at the event and taped a feature for her weekly video blog. She is an American middle distance runner who was on the US 2004 Summer Olympic team. At the US Olympic Trials in 2004, she won the 1500 meters. She competed in the 2004 Olympic Summer Games, making it to the semis in the 1500 meters. She now holds a distance camp at St.Kates, for teens. You can see how it looked at the treadmill event by watching her video below.

Have you seen this poster? I really like it. Some people might think I'm ripping on slow runners but my point is that a running race should be just that: Run as fast as you can.

A 7-hr marathon equates to a 16-minute mile. An average fitness walking pace is close to a 15 minute mile. So if you are basically walking a that something to be respected? I fall on the side of the fence where this is not an accomplishment.

Two events come to mind: Kona and Leadville. Both have time cutoffs during the event. If you are not at Point A by a designated time, you are pulled out of the race. Is it time for marathons to instigate a time cutoff? I think so.

Finally, in other race results my southern Minnesota racing buddy, Mario Minelli got chicked. Yes, we fellows get chicked now and then. Nothing to be ashamed of. However, Mr. Minelli is not your weekend warrior that takes 7-hours to complete a marathon. He's one of the top Masters triathletes in the state and a very, very fast runner. So, who chicked him (results)?

That honor went to Ruth Brennan Morrey. Ruth has an amazing year in 2011 and is a chick to watch in 2012. She ended last year winning the Female 35-39 AG at the 2011 Henderson ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships. So, if Ruth chicks you this honored. Be very honored.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Race Result: 2012 Chase a Leprechaun 5K

Event: 2012 Chase a Leprechaun 5K (March 10, 2012)
Location: Becker Community Center, Becker MN
Weather:  46F, sunny, wind from SW at 12-16 MPH
Goal: sub-20 minutes
Actual: 18:51
Overall: 4th (138 total)
Age Group (50-59): 1st (6 total)
Results Link: Becker AG Breakdown
Previous Results: 19:36 (2011)

Last year (2011) at this event, the weather line looked like this: 16F, winds 30-35 MPH, windchill at -4. What a difference a year can make. I ran in shorts and on top I opted for a long-sleeved UnderArmor with my Fargo Running Company race team singlet over that. And I was probably a tad warm.

Shortly before the race started I turned to the Boy and the Well Kept Wife and said, "I've got nothing." The legs felt dead, I'm still nursing that suspected Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome in the left shin, and I was already looking ahead to the St. Patricks Day 5K in Fargo. That is a key race for me this early spring season and I was using the Becker race as a report card to see how I stood.

I need not worry so much.

After the gun went off I had purposely shot to be up near the front as we started out on a bike path. That meant I didn't want to be blocked in. This also meant that my early pace was in the 5:20 range. After I found myself with plenty of room I started to dial it back. Hit 5:40ish pace and kept dialing it back finally settling in the low 6:05 territory. I was in eighth as we went thru the first mile (6:07).

Shortly before we hit the first mile I was passed by a young lady, Chelsea Schlegel wearing Vibrams. I would run with her for the rest of the race. She was exactly what I needed to keep up a sub-6:20 pace. One or the other would fall off but then come back to rest on either runners shoulder.

She and I started to pick off the pretenders and before we hit mile 2 we found ourselves in 3rd/4th place. I was very happy to go through mile 2 at 6:18 pace. I wanted to maintain 6:20 or better pace as my Fargo tune-up and it was going well. Despite my pre-race doubts, the legs seemed to have some snap to them and were holding up well.

As we turned for the finish, my race partner surged and I was content to let her go. I didn't need to sprint home for this race. That's next weekend. My pace of 6:20 for the final mile, and overall average of 6:15 was better than hoped for.

The course was about 0.09 miles short per the Garmin. So I calculate my 18:51 overall time was a true 5K time of 19:25. I was hoping to be around 19:40. This is the perfect tonic for any mental doubts for the 5K in Fargo. And the weather looks to be even better for next weekend!

Of note: The Boy® set a new PR with a 5K equivalent (once I converted to a true 5K) of a 24:10. And this was with a slight cold. Good stuff.



Next Event:

March 17 - St. Patrick's Day 5K Run - Fargo, ND

This one is important for a few reasons. One, I've been on the Fargo Running Company Race Team since last year. So obviously, I hope to have a good showing for the home team. Two, this will kick off the 2012 LAP (Lake Agassiz Pacers) Race Series under the following guidelines:

- runner does not need to be a LAP member
- runner must compete in 3 of 5 races in 2012 (best 3 times used for performance rating)
- results based on age-grade performance
- awards given out 10 deep, gender neutral

I'd like to end the year within that Top Ten category. Again, this is based on Age Grade performance which I have written about plenty of times. Most recently in my recap of the Treadmill 1-Mile World Championship.

Friday, March 9, 2012

On The Mend: Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome

Here in the Tundra, the snow is melting at a fast rate. We are expecting daytime highs in the 50's and 60's in the coming week. Those warm temps can't come fast enough. I want to hit the trails and take some stress off the legs from pounding the hard asphalt.

After a long run about 10-days back, I experienced some pain along the inside of my left shin. It's been bugging me ever since. It took a dive for the worse after the Treadmill 1-Mile World Championship. So much, in fact, that I took two full days off from training this week despite the fact I have a 5K coming up this weekend and a very important 5K in Fargo a week later. I've been icing, resting, and using compression practically round the clock.

This Saturday's 5K will be a speed workout and see how the shin area responds. Interesting to note, this Saturday's race in Becker is the site of my pelvic stress fracture from last year. Maybe I need to start skipping this race!

After consulting my injury bible (Running Well), I have come to the conclusion that I may very well be suffering from Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS). MTSS is pain and inflammation on the medial border of the tibia, usually felt during and after running. It can be caused by running too much on hard surfaces, overpronation, a weak tibialis posterior muscle (which lifts the arch of the foot), or tight calf muscles, which cause the foot to pronate further. All the muscles involved in controlling pronation can be affected by MTSS and become sore and inflamed.

MTSS can also affect the fascia (the connective tissue that joins the muscle to the bone) and the periosteum (the outer layer of the bone) itself. If the periosteum is inflamed, you'll feel specific tenderness along the edge of the bone.

I've also made sure I've been getting my regular massages but have missed my last two due to other conflicts. I did get in my massage on Thursday and the difference is noticeable. So I have scheduled an extra massage for next week.

To treat MTSS it is important to massage the tight muscles along the inside of the calf before running, and stretch them after warming up. Ice and massage after running will help settle the inflammation, but don't run through the pain. A balance of strength on the front and back of the lower leg is important. Strengthen the calf and shim muscles using eccentric calf exercises. To see a video demonstration, click here.

Also check your shoes and consider getting a gait analysis. And as I stressed, vary the surfaces that you run on, avoiding excessive slant. I can't wait to hit the trails.

I have also been using KT Tape during my run workouts. It sort of helps, whether it is a mental thing or not.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Race Result: 2012 Treadmill 1 Mile World Championship

Event: Treadmill 1 Mile World Championship
Location: Gear West Ski & Run in Long Lake, MN
Weather: Indoors
Goal: under 5:20
Actual: 5:19.7
Overall: 8th (15 total)
Age Group (50-59): 2nd (3 total)
Age Grade: 79.6 (2nd out of 15)
Results Link: preliminary results
Previous Results: First time at this event

"The art of running the mile consists, in essence, of reaching the threshold of unconsciousness at the instant of breasting the tape." Paul O'Neil

Jim Ryun, enough said
This unique event was held over Friday & Saturday (March 2-3th, 2012). There was even a New Balance Age-Graded Challenge. I started looking for age-graded events in 2011 and was successful running those, so that is what really brought me to the race. The Treadmill World Championships, along with New Balance, offered a FREE pair of New Balance running shoes to the winner of the Age-Graded Challenge. The AG Calculator is found HERE.

The AG calculator is intended to provide you with an age-graded race time and an achievement percentile for a recent performance at a specific race distance. Age-graded information allows you to: Judge your performance, using an achievement percentile, without bias for gender or the aging process (in other words, you are measured against a specific standard for your age and sex). These percentiles can be interpreted as follows:
  • Over 90% --- World Class
  • Over 80% --- National Class
  • Over 70% --- Regional Class
  • Over 60% --- Local Class
My goal of going under 5:20 was to try and achieve a 80% (National Class) ranking. My 5:19 equated to a age grade of 79.6 which means had I been in my 'prime' I would have run a 4:39 mile. So, I fell just short of National Class ranking. If I want to be picky, I could calculate my age as 50.88 (I turn 51 in April) and with that factored in my ranking comes out to 80.35 and a 4:37 mile. So I have that personal satisfaction, if you will.

My lone mistake was not factoring in the time it took for the treadmill to get up to speed. I had calculated that if I ran with the treadmill speed set to 11.3 that would equate to a 5:18 mile. I probably lost those very few valuable seconds during the time I started and the treadmill actually was running at that speed. In retrospect, I should have started out at the speed of 11.4 for the first 1/4 mile and then cut back to 11.3. But in some ways I am glad I didn't, since I was running on empty at the end.

Let's talk fuel for a moment. Since my slotted time was 1:30 PM on Saturday, I followed this menu:

Breakfast (6 hours before) -
  • Single slice of toast with Nutella and honey
  • Serving of yogurt with blueberries, blackberries, honey and Chia seeds (1 tsp)
  • Serving of Interphase protein mix with low-fat milk
  • 2 cups of half-decaffeinated coffee
Lunch (2 1/2 hours before) -
I was introduced to Interphase and Carbo-Pro by Kevin O'Connor last race season and I have used these two products exclusively ever since. Kevin was 2009 USAT Duathlete of the Year and just received a honorable mention for the 2011 USA Triathlon Masters Duathlete of the Year.

When I arrived at Gear West Ski & Run I opted to warm up inside on one of the treadmills since there were some empty ones available. Much better than warming up outside as we received some rain and sleet recently and the streets are a bit slippery to say the least.

I ran comfy for about five minutes and then broke into a series of striders, increasing up to my race pace goal. My timer was Derek 'Rusty' Lindstrom and he became a valuable ally. He spoke to me about the first half seeming easy and once 0.6 miles came around the real work would set in.

The rules were easy. We would set the speed, hit enter and go. During this time I could not hold onto any part of the treadmill or I would be DQ'd. I would be allowed to alter the speed during the event. Little did I know I would not have the energy to even make that effort of changing speeds.

Derek was correct, the first part of the race was pretty smooth. There was a 1/4-mile lap indicator on the treadmill face and I was surprised how quickly the first 1/2-mile went. I was hearing things like, "You are looking smooth,"...."Looking strong,"...."Time for some cow bell."

On that third lap the legs were beginning to falter. This is what scared me about racing this kind of speed on the treadmill. One misstep, one ill-timed catch of the toe on the churning treadmill and I would have gone down hard and flying off the back end. It was probably this fear that also saved me.

For on the last lap, a mere 1/4 mile to go, I was toast. In my mind I was thinking, "Its only a 1/4 mile, you can gut this out". But my legs were telling me that they were in severe danger of faltering badly. I was starting to waver a bit. I was making these audible grunting noises. My form had gone from smooth to shot-to-hell. At 0.8 miles, I kept envisioning that was nothing more than two blocks. I was running those two blocks back to my house. That's all it was. Just hold pace.

At 0.85 miles I was looking at lowering the speed control. At this point had this been a road race I would have let up. There is no doubt in my mind. Now I'm thinking I need to slow down the speed of the treadmill otherwise I'm going to stumble.

At 0.9 miles, the legs have nothing left. At 0.95 miles I have serious doubts I'm going to make it. Derek is yelling in my ear. 0.97. My arms are doing some sort of movement that I'm not familiar with. 0.98, yes, I can do it. 0.99, why is the treadmill stuck on 0.99? Why is it not moving? I cannot hold on another second. 1.00, I "Hey, hey, him" from the people watching. I somehow step to the side without falling. Upper body hanging on the treadmill and head down. Holy crap.

And yet, here's the deal. I ran a 5:19 mile and am rather proud of that at the age of 50. But the boys who just made the USA Olympic marathon team averaged 4:55 per mile. Perspective can be a wicked sock to the stomach sometimes.

My hats off to those who competed as those are great times. Thanks to Gear West Ski & Run for hosting the event.

Next Event:

March 10 - Becker Community Center Chase a Leprechaun 5K Fun Run/Walk

Monday, March 5, 2012

Jan - Feb 2012 Training Numbers




Jan Total Hours: 19 hrs 41 Mins
Feb Total Hours: 32 hrs 56 mins

March/April Upcoming Events:

March 10 (signed up) - Becker Community Center Chase a Leprechaun 5K Fun Run/Walk
Mar 17 (signed up) - St. Patrick's Day 5K Run - Fargo, ND
Apr 1 (signed up) - The Old Deer Park 10K - Richmond, England
Apr 15 - Fast & Furious Duathlon (Texas State Championship) - 5k run, 19 mi bike, 5k run
Apr 28 (signed up) - Falls Duathlon - Cannon Falls, MN 2mi run, 14mi bike, 3mi run

Friday, March 2, 2012

Show Up

I recently took first overall in a local 5K. Only 54 runners ran. Second place went to a 12-year old runner. I felt sheepish even posting my race summary. The day after I was reading the February/March issue of Running Times. The Editor's Note had a nice article that talked about the secrets of success. One of which was to 'show up'. In short, it basically reminded me that in order to win one must show up. If you don't show up, you cannot win. So take any win you get. You showed up. If faster runners didn't bother to participate, that is their issue, not yours. Here is the article in full, taken from the issue. Enjoy....and get out there and show up!

By Jonathan Beverly

As featured in the FebMarch 2012 issue of Running Times Magazine

Warren Buffet's wife reportedly taught her children and grandchildren a list of five secrets to success. My wife often quotes these to my son when he's nervous about an upcoming test or ball game. Recently, I noticed how well the "secrets" apply to running, particularly to masters running, which we focus on this issue. Here's the list:

This is 90 percent of the battle. Runners are well aware that how high you place in a race is often tied more to who showed up than how fast you ran. I've won a local 10-miler four out of the past five years simply because no fast runners have shown up. I could feel funny about this, but, given my advancing years, and the fact that I did show up, fit enough to run the hilly dirt course, I'll take it. My qualifier there--"fit enough"--reflects something runners also know, namely, that showing up is more than being there on race day; it's a lifestyle. To be successful, you have to "show up" every day. To really succeed, you have to show up mentally and emotionally as well as physically, but even just showing up physically and getting in some miles will put you ahead of the majority who dabble in their training or try to race without training. Showing up, in all aspects, is even more important for masters. Each year, being healthy and on the starting line becomes increasingly the first mandate of our training and lifestyle, more important than any specific workouts, mileage totals or race strategies.


In running, this seems to me to mostly be about telling yourself the truth: You have to be honest about your current fitness, strengths, weaknesses, age, ability to handle the course and conditions. When we asked "The Sports Scientists" to look at the limiting factors for the marathon in our November issue it was somewhat of a surprise that their overall conclusion was this point as most of the problems stem from erroneous pacing due to not telling yourself the truth about your fitness. For a masters runner, not telling the truth to yourself almost inevitably means not being able to make rule No. 1, as you'll be injured.


The key to any good training program is that it's tailored to the individual. To know what the individual needs, the runner and coach (especially if the same person) must pay attention. Again, while true for all, this becomes magnified for masters, as the type of training you can handle and the reaction to that training not only change with age but change differently for each person. Nowhere are we more "experiments of one" as when we carry our running past youth. As Roger Robinson says in his overview of masters training, "There is consensus on many things. But dealing with aging is always a tangle of senescent cells, wisdom, denial and defiance."

If you're not going to do your best, why bother showing up? This one is a no-brainer. As we age, however, those for whom "doing your best" has meant "doing your all-time, genetic-limit best" have to adjust to concessions not allowed in youth. This is the theme of Alex Sebastian's essay, inspired by the age-based handicapping of the Dipsea. Even with adjusted realities, however, success still requires doing your best on any given day.


While not downplaying the others, this might be my favorite "secret" as it's so counterintuitive to the mainstream idea of "success"--the very word seems attached to some measure of the outcome. But tying ourselves to the outcome is a sure way to sabotage actually doing our best. I recall the lights that came on the first time I saw this articulated clearly, in a November 1999 Running Times article by the late Andy Palmer entitled, "How Badly Do You Want It?" Palmer wrote, "You must be truly able to 'let go,' to become a split personality of sorts. It's not easy; after all, you are striving to do your very best, yet you have to not care about the result. Running the race should be the most important thing in your life while you are running it, yet you can't care how it turns out." Not to beat a dead horse, but again, this is so much more important for aging runners, as your outcomes change to the extent that you start to wonder if the effort is worthwhile. Only by not getting too attached to the outcome can you continue to show up and enjoy success.

Rest assured, there's plenty in the pages to come for the whippersnappers as well as the masters--our profile of Jenny Simpson, our high school and college coverage, and multiple training articles--and these rules above apply to all. If you pay attention, some day you too may be enjoying success long after your peers have stopped showing up.