Monthly Archives: August 2011

Weekly Report

I had some problems importing the GPS tracks into the Dailymile so there is not report from them this week.   Though RunningAhead produced these numbers:

Bike: 27.5 mi

Run: 19.9 mi

Sadly it was the second week in a row that I didn’t get to swim.  It was a crazy busy week as I tried to juggle working and taking care of Nadia at the same time.  It was also the “last week of summer” as work started back up and kids reported to school yesterday.  I also shifted the schedule around so that I did an hour on the bike trainer since I knew I wouldn’t have a bike over the weekend while camping.

Back to the swimming thing, you’ll remember 2 weeks ago I had setup the YWCA’s baby sitting service, only to find out that the pool at that center was closed.  I was going to go swimming one afternoon after work at the Midtown YWCA which is super convenient, only to find out that its pool closed the day before for its annual maintenance.  Ugh.   I know I can swim the distance, but I still really need to get into the open water and swim.

I had 3 very unexciting runs.  I felt pretty good on my first run post-Ragnar, a little soreness but it was no big deal.  Over the weekend we went camping with my sister at Buckhorn State Park in Wisconsin.  Not a very exciting place though I did manage a 9 and 4.75 mile run on super flat trails.  The first part of the shorter run was with my sister who is trying to get into a routine of running.  It started super slow but then I did some fartlek intervals towards the end.  It felt good to get some faster running in.  I probably won’t have any speed – just endurance.

All of the bike miles listed are from commuting, though I did spend an hour on the trainer one morning.  I had a day of 20 miles commuting (with about 7 of it pulling the trailer) and going to a YNPN event.

Hopefully this coming week will be better.  We shall see!

2011 Great River Ragnar Relay Leg 29

It is always a relief to start the last leg of Ragnar.  You are almost done with a great challenge and by this point everyone is starting to get excited.  You are exhausted – but the hope of a few more road kills and the knowledge that you are back in Minnesota and will soon be finishing make you excited.

Everyone in my van was pretty excited about the shortness of their legs.  Most were under 4 miles.  Mine was 7.  With a lot of hills.  Remember the overnight where I fought it out on an uphill? Yup, I felt it.  The excitement and anticipation grew as my time to run slowly came.  The leg right before mine had some rough hills on some narrow roads in Afton along the St. Croix River (beautiful views).  I took over on top of a hill, immediately descended – crossed a road and went right back up!  Total elevation gain was over 800 feet with a net elevation loss over the 7 mile course (not that I felt that part!).

A stretch of this run was also on gravel roads.  Interestingly there were no water stops on this leg despite its length.  I got passed fairly early on but didn’t attempt to go with him.  I wanted to finish and wasn’t super interested in another gut busting run.  I could see a couple of runners ahead of me as we rose and fell over the miles.   I was slowly reeling in a runner ahead of me and passed her on a downhill.

This was a fairly boring stretch with some shade along the way.  We turned on to a busier road and eventually had to cross the street and ended up on a bike path that surrounded/went through several subdivisions and finished the leg on this trail.  I caught another road kill on this stretch.  As we ran through the subdivisiony area some people had come out to spectate including a kid on his bike with his grandma. Grandma was trying to get him to cheer us on, but he wasn’t into that idea!

The trail wound back and forth and I picked off a few more runners as we neared the finish area.  I didn’t know if I’d get the last few or not before the exchange but it was far enough away that I was able to get a few more – totaling 5 for this leg!

Boy was I glad to be done.  I didn’t feel like I pushed super hard on this leg, but the cumulative effects of the 3 legs made me pretty tired.  I had averaged 8:20 pace which with the hills I felt really good about.  This also meant that I had averaged about an 8:30 pace for the duration of my 3 legs which is what I said when I registered!

We didn’t have a lot of time to waste because Aaron had a pretty short leg so we hopped into the van and made it to the last major exchange!!

After passing off the reigns to Van 2 we were officially done!! We got some super cold showers and stopped at Burger King for lunch before heading to the finish line.  We got massages and relaxed by the river while we waited for the updates to come in via the app and text.  We finally got word the last runner was out and Van 2 was on their way.

Per relay race tradition you meet your final runner about 100 yards out and you all run in together!!

Team MN Rocks finished the 2011 Ragnar Relay in 31:11:23 for an average of 9:36 per mile (Ragnar estimated us at 9:40). We placed 219/250.

Thanks to the team for a great Ragnar!!

The view from my last exchange:

Blue Sky

Aaron marking off his last leg:

Last Leg Marked Off Aaron

Our van with all of the legs marked off:

Our final Road Kill tally – 41:
Total Road Kills

Finish Line:
Finish Area

Here’s a video of Ricky’s Dirty Dozen finishing:


2011 Ragnar – Great River Leg 17

Running a 10k at night, on a gravel road, in the middle of no where sounds pretty boring, lonely, and a little scary. If you do it alone.  Fortunately, for me I only had to run the first 1.5 miles alone.  That was a very lonely stretch.  There were no red flashing lights ahead to spur me on and no vans around to make me think I was on the right track.

At one point I did see a flashing red light.  Perfect someone to catch and score my first “kill” of the relay.  The light kept getting closer and closer and closer.  It was only a Ragnar sign indicating a turn.  Bummer.  Last year I passed quite a few people on the night leg and the steady stream of flashing red lights was a great encouragement to keep pushing.

This sign indicated a turn onto a gravel road which was a pretty pleasant idea for the legs – not so much for the lungs as the vans stirred up quite a dust storm.   I had taken the pace out much easier for this leg, remembering what happened on the previous day (this run started at 12:15am) and knowing that I had a 7 miler looming later in the day I was happy to start out pretty relaxed and to just go with the flow.  I did want some road kill numbers though.

Our van was nicely lit up with flashing christmas tree lights making it easy to spot.  I saw it up ahead and I as I approached I shouted, “Where are all my road kills at?” Two seconds later some girl passed me (effectively making me a road kill).  How embarrassing.  I had been passed by plenty of women in my first run – so I think it was my just uttered arrogant comment that spurred me to shift gears and lock-in behind her.

Once I got into the rhythm of the stride it wasn’t too bad.  I never did dare to look at my Garmin to see what pace we were at, but I knew she was pushing me hard.  I had no idea how long I could stay with her, but knew that at least mentally I had to try.  We ran stride for stride for the next 3-4 miles.  Mainly her pushing me to dig deep and keeping me on my toes.  I wasn’t at a conversational pace so we didn’t talk much, but I think she had run competitively.  She effortlessly used the variation in terrain to try and drop me. But I hung on as we proceeded to climb almost 1000 feet during the 10k distance.

We battled, I never really took the lead not wanting to actually get ahead of her since it is easier when someone else is setting the pace.  Sometime after 5 miles I was struggling and let her go.  I never lost sight of her but was starting to give up hope of reeling her back in.  Then we got a road kill.  Success!

The terrain leveled out a bit as we neared the finish and I started trying to work on picking her back off. I started picking the pace back up and within a half mile of the finish some random dude came out of no where and flew past us.  WTF.  I shifted gears again and gave it everything I had.  So did the girl.  It was a super battle to  see who had a kick – brought  me back to the college days.  In the process we picked up another road kill right as we passed the spotters.  Poor spotters.  4 runners in the dark all yelling out our team numbers!

I passed the girl for good, the guy was long gone, and I was absolutely spent.   So much for saving anything for my last leg!  Even though I was spent it was much different than after the hot 8 miler.  This was a great feeling of giving 100%, digging deep, and beating the competition.

I thanked the girl for helping me push the pace and for getting through an all uphill leg that could easily have become a negative suffer fest – instead of the positive suffer fest we enjoyed!! She thanked me for helping push her and that was that.  She ended up being from team 105 – Better than Bond Girls: Dirty Martinis.  They ended up beating us by 14 minutes after all 36 legs.

I stretched quickly and then we loaded up to cheer on Aaron and to head to the Van Exchange.  We passed the figurative baton (a slap bracelet) and drove to Hudson WI for breakfast at Denny’s before driving to Stillwater to get a few needed hours of sleep!

Here is the map/elevation chart (almost 1000 feet gain):

Here is my pace chart with elevation throw in for comparison:

We relaxed on Lake Pepin waiting to start back up again:
Lake Pepin

Everyone has to wear a reflective vest between 7:30pm and 7am:
Awaiting the Night Exchange

Our van lit up with Lake Pepin in the background:
Lights on the Lake

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2011 Ragnar Great River Leg 5 Recap

For the 2011 Ragnar Relay – Great River edition I was the number 5 runner.  This is a different leg than I had last year and was the longest overall distance for the team.  An 8 mile, 6 mile, and 7 mile run sounded pretty intimidating and my first run was the worst.

Our team (MN Rocks) started in Winona at 9am and our lead off runner started us off quite well.  By the time it was my turn to run (at 1:30pm) the sun had been out beating down on us for hours and with there being virtually no shade along the road I prepared for an 8 mile run in rough conditions.  I had hydrated throughout the day and it the toilet a few times so I felt prepared for whatever Ragnar could throw at me.

Here is a map and the elevation chart (this chart looks bad, but the graph is only 200 feet – so the elevation spikes are pretty minimal).

I started out a little too fast which probably doesn’t surprise anyone who’s followed me for awhile.  But I did realize this and try to slow myself down.  I felt comfortable and that was pretty much my goal – to stay comfortable and try to hit 8:30 pace for most of the run. We ran through the cute little town of Alma to start the run.  The first part of this leg was on the Mississippi River which was beautiful (when the trains weren’t passing by).  The rest of the leg was near a smaller river and marshy land.

I was carrying water in my hand held water bottle and was drinking from it regularly, but by mile 4 I was really starting to feel the heat.  I started picking points up ahead and forcing myself to run to it and repeating that process.  After 3 or 4 times I realized it was unrealistic to continue doing that for 4 more miles and picked one more point and walked for a bit.  I walked, took my Gu, and drank a lot of water from my bottle.

I ended up walking 3 times before the end of my run.  One of the other vans let me squeeze a wet towel over my head/back and that helped cool me off! Thanks dude who let me use the towel!  This leg did have 2 water stops along the way which was nice.  The volunteers at these stops weren’t super-excited, but it was hot.  Most of the volunteers along the way were super-energetic and excited to be a part.

After the last time walking I ran for what seemed like a mile and decided that at the short little power line pole if I couldn’t see the exchange area I would take a short break.  As I turned the corner a little more I could see the bright orange vests of the spotters and knew I was within striking distance.  Each exchange has a set of spotters about 400 yards ahead of the exchange who communicate back to the exchange what runners are coming up so that the teammate is ready and waiting in the exchange chute!

Boy was I glad to be done, in the shade, and drinking some cool water!!  After relaxing for a few minutes, we hopped into the van and drove ahead to cheer on Aaron.  The problem with Ragnar is that you don’t get a lot of time to stretch and relax after your specific run.  I did take the opportunity to get out of the van and stretch while we waited for Aaron to pass us.

Here are a few random pictures from the first 1/3 of Ragnar:

Starting line:
Starting Area

Nick getting ready to start:
Getting Ready!

The First Exchange:

Once we passed the slap bracelet off to Van 2, we stopped at the Nelson Creamery for some much deserved air conditioning and real food!
Nelson Creamery

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