Thursday, November 25, 2010

Yeah, I Can Eat Anything (uh, sorta)

One of the beautiful things about being a runner is the ability to eat anything.  I can eat nonstop, yet still lose weight when I'm at the peak of training.  So, my question is this:

While on a running hiatus, should I feel guilty about eating lots of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, carrots, rolls, and pumpkin pie today?

I think not.

Friday, November 19, 2010

No Running!

Uh, yeah, I'm still here.  After my race last weekend, I learned 2 things.  The first is that I was able to run the race faster than expected.  The second is that I NEED to take it easy on my knee.  So, to remedy this second point, I'm giving myself a two week break from running.  I had planned on doing the Detroit Turkey Trot when I go home for Thanksgiving, but I'm going to cancel that.  There will be other races, and I really want this knee to get better.  I'll try and race in December, or use December to rebuild my base, but there won't be any running until November 28th.


In the meantime, though, official results are up from the 623 Run:

(click to zoom)

Some thoughts…
There must have been some discrepancy between my watch and the official clock because this shows me running it 13 seconds faster for a pace of 6'45"/mile.

Yes, 6'45"/mile.  In the snow.  With a bum knee.  And after a few weeks of slacking of training due to bum knee.  I'll take it.

I placed 14th overall and was the 13th male finisher.  It's tough to judge how I could have done if it were in ideal conditions and if my knee was in good shape, but I'm pretty confident I could have cracked the top 10.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Roseville 623 Run Race Report

Or, "I Should Have Brought My Yaktrax"

Or, "How I Raced My Department Chair"

I raced today.  I decided to do the 623 Run for Roseville Schools.  Yes, the 6.23k race.  This turned out to be rather fortuitous, since I had to deal with this:

Yes.  Snow.  Lot's of it.  In fact, we're on track for this to be the biggest pre-Thanksgiving snow since 1991.  Since the race was a crazy non-standard distance, I wouldn't be trying to hit certain pace goals, and that would be good for running in slippery conditions.

I dropped Katie off at the airport, then made the slow commute to Roseville.  I decided to park at the start (it was a point-to-point course), and afterwards I would run back to the start as a cool down.  It was a pretty popular race since it raised money for Roseville Schools.  Even Minnesota running legend Rick Recker was there.

Well, it kept snowing.  And snowing.  And snowing.  They managed to plow the whole course, but that only lasted a little while before it was covered again.  If I had worn my Yaktrax, I would have had a HUGE advantage.  But I didn't.

I lined up at the start, and we were off.  I settled into about 12th place for the first mile or so.  Over the next mile, I passed 2 people.


My knee started to give me issues around 2.5 miles.  By "issues", I mean it felt like it was on fire.  The course left the roads and went to paths/trails.  I was passed by 2 people in this stretch.

In the final mile, there was a decent uphill, followed by a downhill.  In this last bit, I was passed by the first place female.

I finished in 26'20", which is a 6'51" pace.  I'm pretty pleased with that considering my knee and the weather.  I'd guess that I placed 12th or 13th for men, but I'll wait for the results before making that official.

Afterwards, we gathered in the Roseville High School cafeteria, and they had pie.  Apple Pie!  It was absolutely delicious!  I also won a door prize (I think 50% of the people there won door prizes, and the other 50% won slightly lesser door prizes).

As I was waiting for the bus to head back to my car (I had given up on the "cool down run" because of the weather and my knee), I noticed someone familiar—the Chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department at the U (aka, my advisor's boss).  We chatted a bit (he was running with his wife and kids).

I rode the bus back, and cleared a few inches of snow off my car, and drove home.  It took a while to get home.

This was also the first time I've raced in my Brooks Launch.  Overall, they worked good, although it was tough to judge because I was concerned with traction more than shoe weight.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

I Need to Find a Race

After last weekend's wildly successful slightly disappointing "5k", I still want to get a real race in.  If that's going to happen, I need to find one for this weekend, November 13/14.  I'd do one the next weekend, but that's getting close to the Detroit Turkey Trot that I'm semi-planning on doing, so the 13/14 is my best shot.

I've found one race, the Roseville 623 Run/Walk, that fits my criteria:

  1. It exists.
  2. It's nearby.
  3. It's on November 13.
The major downside is that it's a 6.23k race.  Yes, 6.23k.  So, I'd be guaranteed a PR, but it's a less-than-standard distance, and I was hoping to find a 5k or 10k.

So, here's where I throw it out to you, the blogging world.  Do you know of any races this weekend?  Remember, it must fit these criteria:
  1. It must exist.
  2. It's in/near the Twin Cities (although if you know of a good race in Cancun, I'd certainly accept you flying me to Cancun for the race…)
  3. It's on November 13/14.
  4. It's distance in kilometers and/or miles should be evenly divisible by an integer.  (Not critical, but always nice)

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Tesfa 5k: 1st Place Male

The Tesfa 5k is one of my favorite races because (a) it's at Fort Snelling State Park, and (b) it's small.  Well, today, it was really small.  When Katie and I arrived, there were only a few others there:

2 deer (of about 6) in this photo.  The second one is to the left of the silver car.

Yeah, there were deer.  Just deer.  No people.  Katie and I wondered if they had moved the starting line to someplace else in the park, so we went to the front office and asked.  The lady there said "they cancelled that race a long time ago."  Nevermind, of course, that it's still listed on and


Since we were both still in running clothes, we said "why not run it anyway?"  So we did.  And, since the competition was pretty weak, we took it easy.

Katie was the first place female.

I was the first place male.

Our time?  31'09"

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Objects at rest...

Having an injury—no matter how minor it may be—allows one to reflect on their running.  I haven't been running much since my knee started acting up—maybe 2 or 3 times a week.  It's given me time to think.  Time to meditate on a running season that, by many measures, was a resounding success.

In truth, I've needed to make a special effort to listen to my own advice.  Whether it was helping someone figure out a training plan, or giving advice to someone who has an injury, I had one piece of advice: listen to your body.  Well, I've been listening, and it's been saying "take it easy, Matt.  A few weeks of taking it easy will not ruin your running life."  So it goes.

Beyond making the effort to not run (yes, not running requires more effort than running), I've been able to look back at how I've grown as a runner.  How I've become more dedicated, smarter, and in some ways, faster.  To explain this, I'm going to look back into my past a bit.

As a kid, I didn't run.  I played soccer when I was a child, but mostly because it was fun and my parents thought it would be good for me.  I stopped sometime around 1st or 2nd grade.  I did nothing for many years.  I did the mile in gradeschool, and was super happy when I could get into the 10:xx range.  My gradeschool did the mile by running a big rectangle in our parking lot.  10 laps to a mile.  My strategy was to run the short sides of the rectangle and walk the long sides.  I was thrilled when they made the rectangle longer so that it would be 8 laps to a mile (meaning the long sides were even longer).

I was an awkward kid.  Sports weren't my thing because I sucked at them.  All the way through high school, I could count the number of baskets I made in basketball as less than 20.  And we played basketball a lot.  My PE teacher was also the b-ball coach, so he would throw in a token dodgeball game, or weightlifting day, but 90% of what we did was basketball.  I hated it.

This changed my sophomore year.  I was going to join the soccer team.  But, in a school of ~100 students, the soccer team was cancelled that year due to lack of interest.  Dejected I was, but a seed had been planted.  A few days later, Mr. Sprow, my chemistry/advanced algebra/physics/calculus teacher wanted to know if I'd join the cross country team.  I had absolutely no clue what a cross country team was, but said ok.

I was in for a rude awakening.  My second day of practice involved a 6 mile run.  I just about expired.  I was slow that season.  First 5k time was 34:30, second was 38:40.  I was last on my team, and usually last in all the meets.  It was a great day the first time I didn't come in last, and I managed to break 30 minutes that season.  I was just as slow during track season, and it was more embarrassing because one can't hide in the woods and walk.

I got a little faster my junior year, but in my senior year, things changed.  The fast people on my team graduated, so I just needed to run faster than one of my teammates to be the fastest on the team.  It took a few meets, but I assumed that mantle, and didn't look back.  That was the season I almost broke 20, and was 2 places shy of being named all-conference.  In track that year, I even earned points on my own for the first time.  I had a great year of running.

Then I stopped running.  I had every intent of keeping it going in college, but I would run maybe 2 or 3 times a month, and then it stopped altogether.  I was a runner without a team, and only then did I realize how much the team was a part of me.  If I were ever to become a runner again, I would need to learn how to run as my own team.  I would have to carry the sport that I loved on my own.

Stay tuned for how these experiences shaped my 2nd running life.
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