Monday, December 29, 2014

Lil Woods Ultra

This is my second year doing the Lil Woods Ultra. It is a "last man standing" format where we all ran 4.1 mile loops with each loop starting at the top of the hour. So the sooner you got in from your loop, the longer you had to recover, but also get cold and tighten up. Definitely some strategy there. The loops were nice in that it let people drop when they were ready.

I didn't train for the race again this year but my mileage for this year is slightly higher than my total mileage last year so I figured I could top last year and hit 50k.

Pretty happy on the first lap :-).

The temps were in the mid forties and we had significant rain the night before making the trails the sloppiest I'd ever seen them. By the second lap, my glutes were barking about all the work they were having to do dodging puddles, and keeping me upright whiled sliding around.

Concentrating on staying vertical.

After lap two, it was obvious I wasn't going to make it eight laps. It was also obvious I have a weak core.

More concentration. :-)

Nice shot of me sighing, yep, I was about done.

I bagged it after four laps. It just wasn't my day but that's ok. It's a very well done, free race with lots a great people. I sat around for an hour afterward cheering on other runners, chatting with other racers that dropped out and eating pierogis that the race director Travis made. They were delicious!

When I got home I was curious if it was just the bad conditions or if I wasn't as well trained even though I ran 100 more miles this year than last year. What I found surprised me. I didn't remember being so much more consistent last year than this year. Check out the weekly mileage from August through December last year vs. this year.

Marathon training skewed the yearly total a bit.

Over 20 miles per week (except for 3 weeks) last year.

100 mile months middle year loaded in 2014

100 mile months were on the back half of the year last year.

Interesting how perception doesn't always match the graphs. The lower mileage the last three months probably explains the couple extra pounds I'm lugging around too. Maybe I'll train for real next year. Maybe...


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Jingle Bell Hell 2014

I think this is my third (maybe fourth) time doing XLMIC's Jingle Bell Hell race (virtual version). I love the idea and love the fact that Marjorie even got to run it this year.

Anyway, I ran it this year and it was hellish :-). Not sure which run I'm actually claiming as my JBH run. I've been running local single track every Saturday and Sunday now that it's winter, hellish I know. Last weekend was so warm I ran in shorts, hellish. This weekend I couldn't find my Santa hat, hellish. It's Christmas and there isn't any snow on the ground, hellish.

Anyway, here are a few recent trail pics.

Lots of drab single track this time of year. Bring on the snow.

My favorite hat...

Back seat of my car. More trail junk is in my trunk :-)


Thanks for the virtual hosting of JBH XL, maybe some day I'll mange to be out your way to run it in person.


Sunday, October 19, 2014


I took the week off running after the marathon last weekend. My first run in a week was today and started off with a bit of a scare. I figured I would go out for an easy six miles, but less than a half mile in I had sharp knee pain below my knee cap on my right knee. I figured my six mile run just turned in to a one mile walk but decided I would walk a bit and give it another shot. After a minute, no change. After a couple minutes, I started running again and no pain :-). After about five miles I was feeling strangely fatigued. I guess I'm still healing.

Gorgeous fall day.


I love fall. Pumpkin pie, crisp running weather, football and cooking squash.

For the cookout today, I made some home made veggie burgers, regular cheeseburgers, spaghetti squash and acorn squash.

For the spaghetti squash, I put butter, salt and fresh oregano on them, wrapped in foil and put in the coals on the grill. For the acorn squash, it was butter and brown sugar, wrapped in foil and on the coals.

For the veggie burgers, I followed this recipe and they turned out good.

Veggie burgers

Real burgers

Spaghetti squash

Acorn squash


Oh, and I signed up for an ultra December 27th. This is the same one I did last year. It fills up quick since it's free. Shoot me a note if you want the link.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Chicago Marathon Race Report

We took the train from Alton Illinois to Chicago on Friday so we wouldn't have to mess with a car in Chicago. They were doing track maintenance between Alton and Springfield so we had to leave our house at 5 am and they bussed us up to Springfield. I swear the bus driver took every back road imaginable and it took forever. Turns out we could have driven to Springfield and gotten two more hours of sleep. Live and learn :-).

Arrived in Chicago, got some lunch at a pub across the street, went to the expo then we met a college buddy of mine and his girlfriend for some dinner. It was delicious and a great time catching up as always.

Saturday DW and our boy went to the Shed Aquarium while I did a two mile shake out run and met a friend and his family for brunch. Once DW and our boy came back from the aquarium, we did an architectural boat tour. Perfect way to do something cool while staying off my feet.

Lots of cool views on the boat tour

Race day I woke up at 4 am and ate yogurt and a banana, had a cup of coffee, and went back to bed. Woke back up at 5:45 for more coffee and race prep. Waking up early to eat works great for not having to hit the porta potties a bunch of times right before the race. Good thing too since the lines went on forever. Falling back asleep is surprisingly easy too.

The start line was about a mile and a half from the hotel and I didn't know how long it would take to make it through security, so I left the hotel about 6:45 am and walked to the start to make sure I was there in time for the 7:45 corral closure. I was hungry, so I probably didn't eat enough at 4 am, lesson learned. I was well hydrated and the porta potty lines were so long I decided to hold it and stop on the course. It was 50 degrees with a 15 mph wind at the start and I get cold easily. I had a throw away jacket over a short sleeve shirt and under armor plus gloves and a head wrap for my ears plus shorts. I brought two of those chemical hand warmers so I was all set. I also had two of those space blankets as back up and gave those to the first two people I saw that were wearing shorts and tank tops and shivering uncontrollably. They were very grateful to say the least.

Moving toward the starting line

Just a few people behind me in the start corral

Once our wave started, it took almost 15 minutes to cross the start line and we were under way. The first 5k was uneventful. Just warming up, dodging people and keeping my heart rate in check. I drank two cups of Gatorade and two cups of water at the aid station (and every aid station until sometime after mile 15). More of the same on the next 5k except I made the first of three hydration relief stops. I was definitely well hydrated :-). I just focused on keeping my hr under 155, staying hydrated and enjoying the race with lots of high fives. Had my second stop about mile 10 and decided I didn't want to stop every 5 miles or this was going to be a really long race but I wanted to keep hydrating, so I did.

About mile 15 I let my heart rate rise a little to work toward a negative split, but not too high since there was still a long way to go. I ran without tunes and just enjoyed the crowd. I thought the racers would start thinning by mile 18 or so, but they really didn't. I managed to hold off on pit stop number three until mile 21. With five miles left, my feet and calves were starting to hurt, but that's to be expected.

Can't remember what mile this was.

The last few miles, my calves felt like were about to cramp, so I kept drinking Gatorade and focused on keeping moving. I knew that if I started walking, it would be tough to get running again, so I kept running. The crowd support was great all day and really picked up the last two miles. I hadn't seen my family all day so it was nice to hear them cheering for me with about a mile to go. The last mile hurt, but I was happy to be running it in.

Once I crossed the finish line, it was a slow walk through the line for a space blanket, medal, banana, food, water and beer. It was too crowded to meet up with my family, so we met back at the hotel. I walked back to the hotel without too much trouble, showered then we went out for lunch.


The numbers:

Chicago Marathon official numbers:


SplitTime Of DayTimeDiffmin/milemiles/h


You can see the pits stops at 10k, 20k and 35k affected my time. You can also tell the lines got shorter each time. Having two pit stops in the first half and one I he second helped me negative split by about 4 minutes. My last 5k split was my third fastest of the day and my speed for the last 2.2k matched my fastest split for the day. I'd say I nailed my pacing for my current level of fitness.

My Garmin got confused in a few spots by the tall buildings and said I ran 27 miles. Looking at my Garmin map, it's clear I didn't run that far though I'm sure I ran farther than 26.2 due to dodging people, not always being able to take the best line through corners and veering off to grab fluid. Last time I did an LT test was four years ago.

1 - Recovery121 - 155
2 - Extensive Endurance156 - 166
3 - Intensive Endurance167 - 174
4 - Sub-Threshold176 - 182
5a - SuperThreshold183 - 187
5b - Anaerobic Endurance188 - 193
5c - Power

I managed to keep my average HR under 155 for the first 15 miles in attempt to have enough left the run the entire way. Then I started to let it creep up to under 160 though mile 18 and 165 through mile 23. Then I tried to keep it under 170 for the rest of the race but my average for the last mile was 173 with a peak of 179, yikes! Guess if I didn't have a heart attack doing that, I'm good for another year :-).

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Chicago Marathon Taper Time

I started tapering last weekend with my last double digit run (11 miles) and a 5 mile run. The taper continued this week with two missed weekday runs due to work and an 8 miler today. Not many miles left before the marathon a week from tomorrow.

It's starting to feel like fall, 47 degrees for my run this morning. Hoping for a nice cool day for the race. Right now, the forecast high is 60 with 80% chance of thunderstorms. Um, hold the storms please. Do people switch in to dry shoes at mile 18 or so? It seems like dry shoes and socks would feel like heaven about then.

This marathon taper feels different than my half ironman tapers. Maybe it's because the overall training hours are less or the load is focused on a smaller set of muscles. I've had less niggles, which is what I call those twinges that feel like you have a new injury but it turns out it's just your body healing (at least that's my theory). I've had more achy ness and stiffness after sitting still. Tonight when I laid down, both legs were throbbing which is a new one. No pain or uncomfortable feeling, just lots of blood pumping, presumably healing. No weird race dreams yet. Maybe because a running race is less complicated than a triathlon or maybe because I'm more worried about the painful aftermath than logistics.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Week 13 - Chicago Marathon Training

Another solid week of training. The plan was another big week 0-5-10-5-0-10-20. Actual was 13-0-6-6-0-20-4. Yep, biggest training week ever. Yep, my body is tired and sore and hungry. It's the kind of tired you get from training for a long endurance event like a marathon. It feels like I'm tired to the bone and have a hunger that can't be fufilled. Bacon cheeseburgers do help though :-).

The weather broke for my long run Saturday. It was wonderful, 65 degrees and a light rain. It was humid, but not like it has been lately. I felt pretty good until about mile 16 when I started to fatigue. By mile 20, I was ready to be done but I managed to keep all 20 miles under 11 minutes. Stairs were not my friend for the rest of the day but I really didn't feel that bad.

Sunday I was going to go out for 10 miles but by 2.5 miles my knees were barking so I shut it down and walked home. Better to live to fight another day for sure. It was a beautiful day for a walk for sure.

As seen on my walk home Sunday.


Everything is better with bacon :-).


Monday, September 1, 2014

Week 12 - Chicago Marathon Training

This week was a recovery week. Planned was 0-5-6-5-0-6-12, actual was 0-5-0-5-0-0-6. I moved the long run to Monday since it's a holiday and we had company for a few days. I hit 161 miles for the month of August which is the biggest monther ever by far. I'll skip the boring graph :-).

My sister and her family came to town from Boston Wednesday night. My parents came to town Wednesday as well to celebrate their 50th anniversary. Thursday they all went to the zoo then the arch while I worked. Thursday night, we met at Fitz's for dinner and root beer floats. Friday I took the day off and we all went to Grant's Farm and did the Clydesdale tour then did family pictures.

Can't remember the names of these two horses but they have been in at least one of the Budweiser commercials.

My niece and nephews.

Saturday we went to the Science center then had a cookout. We had a great long weekend hanging out.

My grilling helpers.

Slight rain delay.

One of three grills I had going. One other one was half full of chicken and the third had asparagus, green beans and garlic in foil pouches.

Garlic, asparagus and green beans.




Monday, August 25, 2014

Chicago Marathon Training (week 11)

This week was supposed to be one of three peak weeks for me. The Hal Higdon Intermediate 2 plan called for 0-5-10-5-0-10-20, yep that's 50 miles (and yep, I started a plan for someone who has run multiple marathons). Actual was 0-6-6-6-0-10-18, yep that's my biggest weekly mileage ever on my way to my biggest monthly total ever. On top of that, it was very hot and humid this week with a heat advisory posted on several of the days, including my long runs. So, I kept good track of my hr, took along plenty of fluids and took routes where I could refill.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I ran at night since I gave up on becoming a morning person after just one week of my current attempt (attempt three or four, maybe five). With Saturday and Sunday being the hottest days and being my longest runs, I sucked it up and got up early both days. Saturday I got up at 5:30 and was out the door at 6:15. It was 77 degrees and 93% humidity, so it didn't take long to be in a full sweat. I brought my normal 16 ounce frozen water bottle (the cheap ones you buy by the case) I hold in my hand and a 20 ounce waist belt water bottle (Camelback Delaney) with ice and Gatorade and set off. I was feeling good until about mile seven when I started a 3 mile stretch with no shade and temperatures already in the mid eighties (heat indices in the low nineties). I decided I would make a call on 15 or 18+ Miles when I got to the gas station I planned to refuel at (mile 11). There was a water station about a mile before the gas station and I stopped to cool off. I was already totally soaked, squishy shoes and all before I poured water over my head. Right there I decided to call it at 10 miles, called the SAG wagon (DW) and walked to the gas station. I didn't feel that bad but knew if I ran much more, I was going to hurt myself. I walked in the gas station and the attendant was like "wow! You are soaked all the way through". I felt bad I was dripping sweat everywhere, but bought two bottles of Gatorade and paid with dry money I keep in a ziplock bag. Then I went outside and waited for my ride. I actually didn't feel too bad the rest of the day, went on a lunch date, took a nap then grilled out.

My view walking to my pick up point.

That evening I grilled some garlic (in foil), red potatoes (in foil), corn, peppers stuffed with black beans, black eyed peas and cheese. Oh, and I made some poppers for appetizers. Yum!

For the red potatoes, I diced them, put a bunch of Old Bay seasoning on them, and added to butter. Roast on medium heat for 45 minutes to an hour. Delicious! My son said they tasted like the red potatoes we eat in New Orleans.

Potatoes prepped for grilling.

Along with the veggies, I grilled some BBQ chicken. I used some Yuengling based BBQ sauce we picked up on vacation.

Sunday I managed to get up at 5:15 am and be out the door by 5:45 am. Who is this guy? Morning person? Nahhhh :-). It was dark when I left the house, but light enough I got away without bringing a head lamp. Same route as Saturday, same plan. Getting to the three mile stretch with no shade a little earlier made all the difference. The sun hadn't burned all the way through the morning haze yet so it didn't feel like my skin was cooking. Made it to the gas station where the attendant said I looked just as soaked as yesterday. We chit chatted, I refueled and kept going. I took the 15 mile loop turn off instead of the 18 mile loop turn off figuring I could re-evaluate at mile 14 (a park 3/4 mile from my house). The park has a faucet with cold running water you can run on your head and I love stopping there to cool off. When I arrived at the park, I didn't feel horrible, so I cooled off and came up with a new plan. Run a mile out and back and cool off at mile 16 and re-evaluate, repeat at 18 and if I made it to 20, walk home. Mile 15-16 were getting even slower than my usual slow MAF pace, but I didn't feel too bad. At mile 17 my stomach started getting that dull, don't drink anymore feeling because I'm no longer thirsty, so I decided my 18 mile cool off would be my last and I walked home from there. By that time, the temp was in the upper 80's with heat index of 95 so probably a wise move. While walking somewhere during mile 15, a lady walking her dog asked me "how far have you gone? You are a sweaty mess". I should have showed her the road ID I wear and asked if she had a cell phone for when I stroked out :-).

Somewhere around mile 14.

The rest of the day I was a bit sore (ok really sore after sitting for a bit) but overall didn't feel too bad so I did the normal lunch date, nap and a cookout. I love roasting garlic then eating an entire head of it on bread. I cut the bottom off, add some olive oil, salt and pepper then wrap in foil and roast on indirect heat for 45 minutes to an hour.

Garlic prepped for grilling.

For the rib eyes, I put salt, pepper and fresh minced garlic. Yep, I love my garlic.

Rib eyes prepped for grilling.



Grilled half the steaks for a neighbor and some additional pork kabobs for us. Also grilled some Brussels spouts in foil.


Writing this post is making me hungry :-).