Tag Archives: Lake Calhoun

TCM 2009

TCM Expo
TCM Expo

I finished my second marathon. Pretty worse for the wear, but I finished. I had pretty modest expectations going into the race based on my training over the last year. I felt that 3:30 was pretty reasonable since most of my longer runs had been at 8 minute pace.

A friend from college, Pez, was debuting this year and he’s a pretty smart guy and decided to run with me for the first 3 miles around 8 minute pace and slowly build up. He had an excellent race finishing in 3:19. I felt really good during the first 5k, I did stop for a quick bathroom break and had to force myself to not try to catch back up.

I passed fellow classmate Kevin on the north side of Lake of the Isles. Staying pretty consistent at 8 minute pace. The 3:30 pace group was pretty far ahead now, because of my potty break – but they did take it out fairly fast from the start. I passed Deb on the north side of Lake Calhoun and the ran with Anne and her friend for awhile on the south side of the lake. I probably should have stayed with any of them and continued running at an easier pace. But I was hitting my splits pretty accurately.

At some point early on the Minnehaha Parkway part of the course I started catching up to the 3:30 pace group. At which point it got really crowded. Marty was towards the front of the group and we slowly came together as we went through the rolling hills stretch. I was taking it easy and hitting 8 minute pace. Marty and I ran together for a couple of miles. He said he was struggling and right before Cedar he said he would see me at the finish and dropped off.

I maintained my pace through 13 but started to hurt around 12. It started in my hips and throughout the race slowly worked its way down my legs. Mostly on the left side (where I have plantar fasciitis). I got through the half in 1:44 so pretty much right where I wanted to be. I slowed down a bit and I think I stopped to stretch it out before leaving Nokomis. From here my splits slowly slowed down as I struggled with trying to loosen up my legs, staying mentally tough, and not bonking.

As my paces show I quickly deteriorated and never really recovered. Part of me wanted to quit, part of me wanted to walk, part of me knew I had to fight to the finish. I made a mental decision that I would finish, even if I had to walk the rest of the way, but also made the decision that I would run for at least a mile in between walk breaks. I started just trying to walk through water stops, but then gave up on that and just started walking when I didn’t feel like going any farther.

I saw my wife and friend at mile 16 and gave them the thumbs down. I think they knew I was off pace but the thumbs down was a clear sign that I was struggling. I heard a couple of my students cheer for me and a former student gave me a needed/welcome Gu pack around mile 17.

Blood Filled Blister!

Blood Filled Blister!

The rest of the race is a blur of struggle and pain but I finished. And I was running at the finish. I finished in 3:56:00 officially. Deb and I passed each other back and forth throughout the last 8 miles. She served as much needed motivation to keep on pushing. A first time marathoner chatted with me a bit as we were getting ready to go up the St Thomas hill. I told him I was doing terrible but he kept talking. As we started up the hill he asked, “Is this the big hill.” I replied, “One of them.” He was caught of guard by that, and I felt a little bad, but I was out of it and didn’t really want to chit chat about the intricacies of the last 6 miles.

One high point of the final stretch was my wife and friend were just in front of the Target Cheer Zone. Summit Ave is already pretty packed with people and can be very encouraging. So I passed them and they were really cheering and the whole block or two was extremely uplifting, especially as you pass through the Cheer Zone. I got a boost in my step, which didn’t last near as long as I was hoping!

Seeing the cathedral top made me happy because I knew it was almost over. Then slowly making the turn and seeing the capital. I dug deep and found something and pushed hard. The crowd roared and I finished. Then I shuffled through the chute getting water, fruit, chips, a banana, a heat sheet, vegetable broth, and finally a finisher’s shirt. Marty and I hobbled and talked for a bit before I tried to find my wife and friends to go home.

It is amazing how much pain you can be in after running that far. My body hurt during the run, but hurt even worse right after it was over and for the rest of the day! When I peeled off my sock I found a nice blood filled blister pictured above!

Thank you to the thousands of people who cheered!! Those who knew my name, those who cheered for “MDRA” (my jersey), my race number, and even those who yelled for “MORA” (because evidently the D looks like an O). Each and every one of you and all of the volunteers helped make this race successful.













































































































































[tags] Twin Cities Marathon, TCM, Marathon [/tags]

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Week in Review

Where does time go? It seems like time flies by.  It is almost Christmas and almost a new year. 2008 has flown by with lots of great stuff happening.  This week was no exception.  It is a busy time at work as we prepare for “winter break” and the students start getting antsy.

Monday was my requisite day off of running.  I sadly failed part way through my Week 5 Day 1 of the hunderd push-up challenge. I got 82 of 145 done before I couldn’t squeeze out another one and collapsed to the ground. After recovering a little I did my Prehab: Core, Hip, and Elasticity workouts. I also biked to work in the snowy slush.  It was fine except that the bike I planned to use for the winter didn’t workout too well because the suspension system on it made the bike too small for me.

On Tuesday I did 5 miles along the Greenway doing an out and back heading west.  It was pretty uneventful but it is interesting to point out that the Greenway was plowed better than the road next to my house! I did it 38:41. It was about 16 with a wind chill of 0.

Wednesday I took my new video camera along for a 3.5 mile run at Powderhorn Park.  I took some video of the snowy park which helped make the run longer! The snow also made the run a little more difficult because only some of the sidewalks around the park had actually been plowed.  I’m still trying to edit the video to make it right but you can see a rough edit here.  It was about 2 degrees without a significant wind chill. Since I failed on the push ups I went back to Week 4 Day 2 and did the 3rd column (last week I did the 2nd) which is a little harder as a result I did 140 push ups.   I also worked out on the Physioball.

Thursday I did a newer 3 mile loop which goes along the Greenway heading East and then takes the Hiawatha LRT trail north to the 24th St bridge and then head home.  It is a nice change of pace that I did in 24:00. It was about 9 and sunny which felt nice. I did my Prehab Core, Hip and Elasticity.

I had planned to run on Friday but woke up pretty tired and unmotivated. So I decided not to.  I then looked at the weather and realized it was -1 outside (air temp) and was glad of my decision.  So I did my push ups getting most of the way through Day 3 of Week 4. I didn’t finish but I didn’t write down how many I got. I think I was a little frustrated at myself. I was so wrapped up in editing that stupid video that I forgot to post a Foto Friday!

Saturday was a very nice morning. It was sunny and 28 without any major wind.  The Polar Bear group met at Lake Harriet Bandshell and we ran around Lake Calhoun, Cedar Lake, and Lake of the Isles.  It was about 9.4 miles and as usually happens with this group we went out pretty fast.  A small group of us settled into a comfortable pace and let the rest of them go out.  We never got too far behind but just enough that it was impossible to catch back up easily.  It was a gorgeous day to be running and a good workout.

Sunday on the other hand wasn’t too pleasant.  It was 36 with freezing rain when I woke up. I almost didn’t go but decided I couldn’t take another day off this week and the weather was only going to be getting worse. Our group met at Minnehaha Falls and ran to Fort Snelling over the 5 bridge backup the East River Parkway crossing the Ford Bridge.  It was just under 6 miles.  I was wearing shorts and felt fairly comfortable for most of the run.  The rain wasn’t too hard but was noticable throughout the run.

Weekly Mileage:

Running – 26.3 miles

Biking – 3.5 miles


I ran 5 miles, biked 16.5 indoors, swam 400 yards, and did the elliptical, stair climber, and rower! I posted a guest review of the St Jude Marathon and shared about a 12 Days of Christmas give-a-way program which ended up being a huge marketing gimmick. I also posted 9 winter running tips and of course a hilarious Foto Friday.

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TCM Race Plan

Every race should have a plan. I think for my marathon debut at the Twin Cities Marathon I am going to go out at about 5 minute pace for the first half and drop to 4:30 pace for the last. That should help me set the marathon world record. I mean I only have to beat 2:03:59 right? Yea Haile Gebrselassie broke his own record and set the new one. I’m glad because I needed a little something to push myself through the middle miles!

Who am I kidding?!? My marathon goals are:

1) To qualify for Boston with a 3:10 (7:15 pace),

2) To break 3:30, or

3) To have fun and finish.

My training is on track for the 3:10 finish so unless something happens on race morning to suggest otherwise that will be the goal I have in mind.  The others are plans B and C in case I fall apart out there – but I don’t foresee that happening at all.  I’ve re-read Blaine Moore’s book, Marathon Preparation & Recovery and I’m ready to go.

Simply put, my race plan is to go out easy and finish hard. More technically I will follow the advice of friend, teammate, and accomplished marathoner Kirk Walztoni who recently published a great article in the Run MN Magazine. Here are my key takeaways:

  • In the early miles “Take it easy—take it too easy.”
  • Stay well-hydrated.
  • Take a Shot Blok every 5k – this worked well in training and past races.
  • “Cruise” around the lakes and enjoying the “Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in America.”
  • Relax through the middle hills, feel good, and smile for the camera at the half.
  • Soak in the spectators and stay focused on the West River Parkway.
  • Cross Franklin Ave bridge feeling good and don’t bust up the hills – stay even and consistent.
  • Run the tangents, unless it is really sunny – then run the shade.
  • Stay consistent but start reeling in the runners while cruising up Summit.
  • When you see the Cathedral – bust a move and kick it on the downhill finish.

I found a TCM customized pace chart that can be used to pace yourself to your goal time, I might cut it out and use it. Or one from MarathonGuide.com

I’ll be wearing an orange jersey NOT MDRA red. My bib number is 430.

When I finish I want to say just like Gebrselassie said last Sunday:

“Today, I’m so, so, so happy. Everything was perfect today”

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Race Review: City of Lakes 25K

Yes, that is a 25K or 15.5 miles.  My longest race ever and before this training cylce my longest run ever was a 15 mile hike/run in Yellowstone, when I worked out there one summer.  We could not have asked for a much better day for this race.  The temperature was in the mid-50’s with overcast skies.  It was pretty humid and actually rained while we were eating breakfast shortly after the race. The sun was out during my warm-up but disappeared for pretty much the entire race. The race appropriately loops around 2 of the many lakes in Minneapolis and makes for a great spectator event.  My official time was 1:48:49 while my watch was at 1:48:40 (this was not a chip timed race).  That was good enough for 131st overall and 27th in my age group.

This is the 27th running of City of Lakes and is a pretty fast course.  Four men’s age group records and 2 women’s records were broken today. The race is billed as “a middle distance trial for those running the newly created Twin Cities Marathon and other fall marathons, or for those looking for a fall, middle distance running event.”  It lives up to its name with 984 total finishers.


I received my bib number in the mail a few days before the race.  I was a little surprised, but I didn’t really do a lot of research about the race.  With a mile seperating the start and finish lines and registration at the finish line this was pretty helpful.  I didn’t have to go to the registration table.  We parked on a street about half-way between the start and finish and my wife went towards the finish and I went to the start. I wore gloves for my warm-up but decided not to wear them. I waited in line to use the bathroom for 15 minutes and never got to use it so that I could start the race on time (see below). I wore my singlet with shorts.

Race Time

I thought long and hard about the race plan.  I have been pushing my body pretty hard for the past month or so – taking my “recovery” weekends and racing over them.  So I thought that my body could handle a nice marathon pace effort and it would give me a good chance to see how the pace felt for a longer distance.  That means that I would run at 7:15 pace or 1:52:38 overall.  I thought that if I ran that pace and felt strong in the last 5-10k then I’d pick up the pace and anything under 2:00 would be acceptable for this distance.

The race directors had setup two signs on trees next to the starting area one for 7 and the other 9 for people to self-select a starting place.  I started right behind the 7 marker and went out at what felt like a pretty easy pace. The start has a quick series of 2 hills and then flattens out.   The crowd was pretty thick so I was suprised when I came through the first mile in 7:05. Okay, not too fast “slow it down a little”.  I felt like I had slowed down and was suprised again to see mile 2 come at 6:58. Ok, so still a little too fast – let’s try slowing it down again…  A quick uphill, waterstop and down to Lake Calhoun – still feeling comfortable.  Mile 3 6:53 and through the 5K in 21:32.

Ok so I’m still running faster than planned, but the 2 guys next to me are talking about their pace being dead-on their race plan.  Hmm… I’ll run with them I guess and see what I can do.  I had taken water at the stop and was a little suprised to see another water stop so quickly – so I skipped it.  The 2 guys took water so I waited for them to catch back up and fell back into rhythm with them.  We came through mile 4 in 6:59. Still feeling good, but it felt really cold running in this stretch and I never really warmed back up.  It wasn’t cold enough to worry – just enough to make your hands cold. Mile 5 was in 6:58. At the 5 mile mark 3 runners from some of the “fast teams” were standing around talking – can’t remember if they were wearing numbers or not, but strange.  Back through the waterstop and up and over the hill back on Lake Harriet.  Still Mile 6 was 7:04 and 10k in 43:07 – this 5k was 21:34.

Around and around we go heading past the starting line. I continued to run with these 2 guys and we came through mile 7 in 6:59. Passing the starting area we hit the 2 quick hills and going up them I seperated from the guys I had been running with.  I was planning to catch their race numbers so I could look them up later, but was expecting to drop them here.  I don’t think the pace was comfortable anymore, but it wasn’t strenuous either so I decided to continue with the rhythm.  I came through mile 8 in 6:57.  Overall crowd support was pretty good.  There was a lot of people in the area between the two lakes and a smattering of people around the course.  Passed the finish line again and back into the area between the lakes.  The mile marker was right before the waterstop.  Mile 9 was 7:00 and through the 15k in 1:04:41.  This 5K was 21:33.

I decided to pick up the pace to put some distance between myself and a few women I just passed! I also thought, I feel good let’s see what I can do.  It felt like I picked it up a lot so I was a little disappointed(?) to come through mile 10 in 6:53, but I knew that the clock was still under 1:10 – so I was sub-7.  That small pick-up hurt more than I expected it to and I soon realized that 10K is a long way to pickup the pace! Examining my pace chart, I did it the hard way – hitting 6:28 for a few seconds and then slowing down and yo-yoing a little bit around 6:45 pace.  The next mile I continued to speed up and slow down – hitting 6:36 but never slowing below 7:15.  Another water-stop, around the top of Lake Calhoun and through mile 11 in 6:57. I don’t remember much from the next mile except thinking that I still had a long way to go! Mile 12 in 7:01 and through 20k in 1:26:19 and this 5k in 21:38.  Interesting that the 5K I tried to pick-up the pace in was actually my slowest 5k up to this point.

The last time through the waterstop and over the hill and less than 5K to go.  Just hold it together Cross and you’ll do great.  I saw a clock somewhere in here (may have been the 20k sign) and realized that a half-marathon PR was in reach.  Mile 13 was 7:04. I got a half-marathon PR!!!!! in 1:31:something. They had an official clock there and I don’t remember the exact time.  I can’t get my Garmin to given me the time either – but it was faster than my 1:33:22 from 2 weeks ago.  Credit to Chris Taylor for saying I’d hit the PR! Excited about the accomplishment I knew that I just needed to hang in here and not blow up.  Up to this point I had been taking a Clif Shot Blok after each 5k, however I decided not to after the 20k (rookie mistake!) and Mile 14 was 7:13. Stay calm, you are doing great. Relax and stay focused.  At this point one of the guys I had run with earlier caught back up to me and encouraged me to stay strong.  We came through mile 15 in 7:06. Ok, that’s good pick-up the pace and give it everything.  I don’t know, something magic happened – I guess knowing the finish was so close it was like a jolt and I picked up the pace – hitting 6:22 pace according to the Garmin.  That hurt – backed off a little and got passed by a guy wearing headphones.  Can’t let that happen surge to catch him and try to pass – hitting a 5:28 and he switched gears and took off.  Crap I can’t keep this pace to the finish anyway so I eased off and finished in 1:48:40 for a last half-mile in 3:25 (6:25) pace.  I was a little tired, excited about my time and overall performance, and disappointed for a second about getting out-kicked at the finish.  The last 5k was in 21:49.


I stumbled through the chute letting them take my number, getting a few dixie cups of water.  The big prize at the finish was a “beer stein” or a glass mug with the race logo and sponsors on it.  And picked up my cookie from Great Harvest Bread Co. of Linden Hills and it was delicious.  Other post race food included banannas and apples. Booths from Saturn Cars (got a cow bell) and Sister Kenny Sports & Physical Therapy Center (got a little band aid holder) rounded out the party! I picked up my bag and got some dry clothes on.  We waited around for the rest of our team to finish and went out for breakfast.

A Few Criticisms

This was a great race pretty much all around.  I was very surprised that a race of this size and caliber didn’t utilize timing chips.  I know it saves a few bucks and I only lost 9 seconds from my official time and watch time, but I’m sure the people at the back of the pack would appreciate knowing their actual time.  If you want to be a tune-up for the marathon, people should get to know their official time for 25k.  The other minor criticism is the amount of porta-potties.  There was still a line at the start of the race (another good reason to use chips).  I was waiting in line, but decided to skip the bathroom to make the start (I was in line for 15 minutes).  Ok, so another little nit-picky detail but the plastic cups weren’t the easiest to drink from while running (not easy to squeeze the top) and they were pretty small to be drinking fromat the finish.

[tags] City of Lakes, 25K, Race Review [/tags]

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Marathon Training: Week 14

Image from stock.xchn.

Only a few more weeks to go and I think the fall weather has finally arrived.  I ran what was hopefully my last “hot” run on Monday.  It is amazing how much the temps have dropped through the week.  Monday morning was 70 and the temps barely broke 70 for the rest of the week! This was also the first week back for students at school so that was a little added stress but overall a very good week.

Monday: 4-6 miles. On Labor Day I did a random 6 mile route that took me downtown and across the Stone Arch Bridge and down to the river on some random trails I hadn’t done before.  I took it pretty easy and ran in 50:23.  It was 70 with high humidity. My stomach was a little upset and my legs a little tired from the 20 miler still.

Tuesday: 8-10 mile progression run. We met at Lake Harriet for our group 10 mile progression run.  We ran around Lake Harriet for a warm-up, did Calhoun to Isles at Marathon Pace, did the entire Isles at half-marathon pace and then the short side of Calhoun at 10K pace.  We hit each pace a little fast, so the overall 9.82 miles in 1:11:14 was actually at 7:15 or marathon pace.  The Marathon Pace segment was 2.54 miles in 18:19 or 7:12 pace.  The Half-Marathon Pace segment was 2.63 miles in 17:36 or 6:42 pace.  The 10K Pace segment was 1.43 miles in 8:48 or 6:10 pace.  I was quite pleased with the workout and how I felt overall at the end.  The 10K segment hurt but I never felt my pace was out of control. It was in the mid-60’s for the run.

Wednesday: 5-7 mile recovery run.As always when I run on Weds in the morning I am pretty tired and sore from last night’s workout.  This 3.5 mile run at Powderhorn Park was no different.  My left achilles and right ankle were a little tight, so I enjoyed running a lot of the run on grass and was glad to get home and ice! I ran it in 30:16 and with the 52 temp I was wearing long sleeves!

Thursday: Rest Day! I nice day of rest.  I didn’t do anything today except work and lounge around at home!

Friday: 6 mile run. This was a nice easy run along the Greenway.  I felt comfortable the entire 6 miles.  I went east for the first time in awhile.  It was 53 and sunny, so I wore a long sleeve shirt again and by the end I was getting pretty warm. I finished in 46:59.

Saturday: 10-12 miles. Because of tomorrow’s race I didn’t want to run today, however the training group was getting a 30% discount at Marathon Sports after the morning run.  So, I rode my bike there and bought a few items and rode home.  It was a scenic ride down the Greenway and around Lake Calhoun and Harriet.

Sunday: Cross-Training. I raced a 25K this morning instead of cross-training.  This was the last race of the USATF series and a beautiful morning.  I set out to run marathon pace and instead ran a very nice 1:48:40 or 7 minute pace and PRing in the half-marathon.  Stay tuned for more about the race!

Weekly Mileage:

Running: 40.9 miles

Biking: 33 miles

Hal’s Tip of the Week: Too much racing can compromise your marathon training. In the marathon training class in Chicago, we used to recommend that students race no more than three out of the 18 weekends at distances between 10-K and 25-K. Now we don’t recommend any racing out of fear of injury. Races, nevertheless, can help you determine your fitness level and help select you predict marathon pace. Here’s a handy formula for predicting marathon time. Multiply your 10-K time by 4.66. (For instance, 40:00 for 10-K predicts 3:06:40 for the marathon.) First-timers, however, should take a more conservative approach and multiply 10-K time by a factor of 5. (For instance, 50:00 for 10-K predicts 4:10 for the marathon.) By choosing the more conservative formula, and starting more slowly, you’re less likely to hit the wall.

[tags] Marathon Training, Hal Higdon [/tags]

Week 14

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