Hi, I am Randy from the flatlands of Superior, WI. Back in the day just might be an appropriate title for this. For my 30+ seasons of running I hope to share some regional running history, trail running information, and observations about our sport / activity / pastime.
Happy trails or roads,
June 18, 2010: Gma's " Are you ready kids"
Running takes center stage in the Twin Ports this weekend. This is the event your friends and neighbors will be asking you about and may be part of water-cooler conversations on Monday morning. Take a cue from Mark Stoghill's article in the Tribune today, finish! Not finishing really does hurt for an entire year. Been there and done that!
A lesson I learned from years of ultra-marathoning was that if you feel bad don't quit. Stop for a bit, re-group, and start again. Sometimes, all it takes is a few (or many) minutes for your body to catch-up on fluids or fuel, be patient. The crowds from Brighton Beach to the finish are second to none, they will give you the needed lift to see the finish-line, just hang in there. The support that the runners receive at Grandma's is truly special.
The measure of the effort isn't always the clock. It's making it to the start-line (all your training) and seeing the finish-line. It's your participation that may be inspiring to friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. You just might see them at next year’s race. I have. Good luck to all of those in the Irving 5k tonight, the Bjorklund 1/2, or full marathon. Tomorrow we all get to share in the effort, for me it's the 1/2.
Now go run!'
June 12, 2010: Tri a Buffalo burger sometime!
After a mediocre spring running, things clearly lined-up for my 5th consecutive Buffalo Triathlon. For the second year, the team of Glenn, Shane (NR blogger) and I did the day trip to Buffalo, MN. Glenn served as our moral support and photographer, Shane was participating in the Olympic distance event and I was competing in the Sprint event. I must admit that in the world of triathlons, I spend as much time more looking at weather reports for wind speeds as I do for XC skiing and waxing temperatures. Anxious swimmers, like myself, hate choppy water!
About the triathlon experience, I must digress. Buffalo has a very special place in my heart as far as events go. It was my very first tri back in 2006 with nine months of swimming leading up to the event. That time included swim lessons to actually learn how to swim. Adult swimming instructor, Cathy Olson, at the Duluth YMCA worked her magic to teach an "old dog" some new tricks. About five years ago I could tread water and even muster a dog paddle or breast strok-ish thing for 25 yards. Line me up to go from point A to B in open water, no way in the world that was going to happen. To add a bit more to my aquatic anxiety, I had two near drowning experiences in my past. Yes, I was clearly in need of some aquatherapy / swim counseling / instruction to ever consider an event in open water. Cathy succeeded where others had clearly failed. Today I'm doing much better as a swimmer, but still get a little anxious from time to time. Buffalo has tapped into a wide range of emotions and feelings for me: anxiety, anticipation, accomplishment, competition, camaraderie, community, and empathy!
During the pre-race announcements, news came that Paul Jorgen was not able to participate in this year's Buffalo Triathlon. For those that don't know the story, he was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma and completed the 2009 Buffalo Tri during his chemotherapy. Paul was to participate as part of a team this year, but was unable to. Race director Brett Oden passed along some words of encouragement and inspiration from Paul to share with the participants. Sadly, I learned Paul passed on June 7th. A memorial has been set-up in his honor to help families with melanoma, Tri 4 Your Cure, (1407 4th Street NE, Buffalo, MN 55313). I have had my experiences with a malignant melanoma and feel fortunate it was caught early, but not without some surgeries and downtime. June 6th was also the second anniversary of the passing of a really great co-worker to cancer. The day had a very special meaning for me, punctuated by the news of Paul's condition. Thoughts and prayers to his family. I'll admit I gained inspiration from every Tri 4 Your Cure shirt I saw on the course, there were lots!
Now about the competition: the swim went very well, the winds died and I left the water with an all time best. I actual finished within my group of swimmers, the "Geezer's" 50+ bunch. In most tri's at T2 I have no difficulty finding my bike because I swim so slow that everyone has left by the time I get there. This year...bikes...I must be swimming faster (thanks to Sarah our Superior YMCA master's swim coach). The bike portion of the event had little in the way of winds, so keeping the speed in the 20+ mph range worked out. Consider I bike on a vintage 1987 Trek aluminum race bike...I give-up lots in technology to my carbon fiber and disc competitors. 13 miles on the bike in 38:40 another all time best. T2 in 62 seconds and on to the run without having to work through the "stickman leg syndrome". The run wasn't an all time best, but good, 21:56 for 3 miles. My overall time: 1:13:36. The time would be seven minutes faster than 2009 and three minutes faster than my best ever at Buffalo. A respectable age group finish too! All that pool time amounted to something. I'll attribute a bit of inspiration to the effort too!
Shane did well with a solid effort the day after a ten mile run. If I'm ever competitive with him in a run again I'll have to remember not to be within 200-400 yards of him at the finish. He has a killer kick, just ask the 10-15 runners he left in his wake at the end of his run leg. I suspect a good G'ma's from him, no pressure though! The remainder of the day involved supporting and cheering for the Duluth contingent, DRC folk, the Agar clan, Dan Duff, Kirk Vesterstein, and others. Glenn opted not to do the event because of his focus on the Bjorklund 1/2 next week. He had the good fortune of witnessing all kinds of nervous and anxiety ridden behaviors from his traveling partners, I'm sure he has some stories to tell.
Some final thoughts: from time to time an event occurs that embraces all of your senses, captures your emotions, bonds friends, builds community, gives inspiration, and provides personal accomplishment. I have done hundreds of events, big and small, in 31 years. This year's Buffalo will easily rank as one of my most memorable. It was truley special on a very personal level. When you are provided the privilege of experiencing all of those things that make us human, in one day, one event, it's rare but very meaningful. Be sure to wear your sunscreen and get a skin cancer screening regularly. When in Buffalo be sure to try a buffalo burger, it's worth the trip!
April 25, 2010: Millinium Trail Preview
Here are my updates about the kickoff event for the NMTC Spring Series.
First, we won,t be starting or finishing on the pavement at all this year. The course is approximately 3.5 miles with with nearly every type of running surface short of a running track to run on.
I did a course time trial on Sunday to see how it feels. Here is my report. The first third is flat soft and some sections are water logged trail. You will experience some good sections of running and some of energy sapping soft / spongy trail. One 50' section has ankle deep water. There are some really runnable fast section in the first third.
The second third of the course (the western section) very dry, but it's the hilliest part of the course. When you leave the last big hill on the course you will hit a turn on to the pavement I could call "T2 Turn" ( tri folk will understand why) you are now on pavement for about a 1/3 mile. The soft trail and hills should have zapped your legs by now so you will have that "stick man" tri feeling...just like after T2.
T2 to the finish is the final third and it runs back to the ski trail and not to the parking lot down the paved trail. A few quick roller hills and "surprise" I found a connector trail of single track technical trail. Jump some downed trees and navigate some natural obstacles and it is back to -cc-> like wide dry trail to the finish. My time was about 29:00 with a good push because I was doing a pre-event time trial for this blog entry.
Expect a course tougher on your legs and about three to five minutes longer by running time. See you all on Wednesday for the kickoff.
April 12, 2010: Back in the swing of things
I have stepped-up again to organize an event in the region. Check-out the NR News tab for The Superior Distance Swimming Challenge. Considering the amount of time that I have spent in the pool due to a running injury since the Turkey Trot last year, I found a group in the fitness community that doesn’t have a 5k or anything similar to challenge them. Having adopted the triathlon as a sport, I figured a new "low key" event to give swim & tri folks something was a good idea. I hope it works out.
Now let's get back to running!
March 6th: My transition event from XC ski season to running was the Frozen Fish Triathlon in Ironwood. 50 degree mush snow and red clay muck roads made for an interesting event. My daughter Megan and I decided to enter as Team Superior again. I skied & ran and she did the swim leg. She managed to have a few anxious moments when she realized that she had forgotten her swimsuit at home while I was on the run in to the swim transition. Thankfully another family from Superior had an extra suit for her to use. A big thanks has to be given to the Elonen family. We finished 2nd of all teams and 1st 2 person team. The Elonen’s took home some “hardware” too! A good day for us "Flatlanders".
March 22th: Living in South Superior it isn't often that you have the opportunity to run an event just blocks from your house. The Polar 5K involved 3/5 of the Back clan in the run and walk. It was very refreshing to see some new faces organizing an event in the region. The course was flat and fast! The turnout was good for a 1st year. I'll give the organizers "props" they did a good job about getting the word out. It appeared that David Hyponnen and Amy Flessert both gained top honors as first place male and female 5K runners. The NR results seem a bit off with milers and 5K participants being mixed.
April 11th: Duluth YMCA Indoor Tri: Angel, Steve and the Duluth YMCA folk did a fine job with the Dip, Ride & Dash Indoor Tri. I was disapointed with with the low number of participants. Having done a few Lifetime Fitness Indoor Triathlons in the Mpls area, they can get a field of nearly 100 participants. This event seems to be hovering around the 20 participant range. The pace setter format is a unique and interesting scoring system. My finish was about what I had expected, mid-pack. I have improved a little over last few years on the swim, but can never make enough back on the bike and run to move up significantly. Now I'll get on my "Soapbox"... Come on folks! If we expect events to stay on the calendar we need to support them!
April 11th (evening): Megan's run.... "How about going for a run tonight Dad"... that one came out of left field on Sunday. I was very pleased; it felt great to connect thru running again. We had a very nice conversational run on the Millennium Trail in Superior. The last time we went for any kind of run was years ago during the Twin Cities Marathon, Saturday running events for children. She was in 6th grade at the time and is now a junior at SHS. We found that time has flown for both of us.
My thoughts about the NMTC Spring series Superior Millennium Trail event. I'll be flagging the course again so I'm considering a slight re-route and extending the course over more ski trail for some additional hills and length. The dry Spring is lending to that decision at the moment. Should we encounter a monsoon season, back to the old course. I'll more than likley do the blue trail section backwards to the pavement as the addition.
Happy Trails +
February 11, 2010: EIC syndrome
I’m suffering from Exercised Induced Cravings (EIC). As the kilometers accumulate the hunger increases. I did a quick clean-up of the inside of my truck and came to the conclusion that I must have been doing lots of training or a junk food shark is living in my truck. I suspect it's a shark from the teeth marks and mangled remains. It was clear evidence of a feeding frenzy. There must be a junk food "Jaws" somewhere in there.
My long XC ski workouts share two things in common with ultra training. I put in lots of hours and I can't wait to eat. My most recent food fantasy happened during the last 30 minutes of a 66K ski workout. As the stomach churned for more fuel the wrong cravings hit, from a healthy viewpoint. If I could only ski faster to my finish line of Doritos's, Coke, and chocolate. How far is the nearest convenience store? Clerks beware; I have exact change and a Visa if necessary. For me cravings have no rhyme or reason. It could be perfectly acceptable banana/strawberry smoothie, or greasy pizza and beer.
What is food fantasy heaven? That occurs when apatite meets opportunity. This happened for me few years ago during the Superior Trail 50 mile on the section just before the climb to Carlton Peak. A major craving hit. Cookies and coffee... NOW! Thank goodness for the Temperance aid station. The volunteers asked if there was anything that I wanted. I replied, "How about some coffee and cookies". No problem! Coffee at an aid station, they really do have everything. I was speechless...it's not polite to talk with a mouth full of cookies. I still wonder what the hikers and tourists were thinking as I ran past them while trying not to spill my big cup of coffee and eating a handful of cookies. What kind of bizarre running and feeding event were they witnessing?
The stealth craving. It's the type that you can't identify. It's sort of on your radar screen, you just can't define it. You try to satisfy it by eating everything and nothing seems ever seems to work. Evidence: lots of things opened and none finished!
The I can't look at another (insert food name here) craving. After an ultra sometimes the last thing you want is another banana, cup of energy drink, salted potato, or piece of fruit. Anything that you haven't consumed during the day at aid station is more than welcomed.
The anticipatory craving. I'll experience this one this at the Pre-Birkie on Saturday. I know exactly what to expect at the finish line. The pull of glazed donuts from the Hayward Lions will surely get me to the finish in the 42K at more than a leisurely pace. I'm already starting to daydream about sugared, glazed, frosted... I still have to wait until Saturday!