Tag Archives: Road Running

03042018 – Run

A quick short run this morning with the puppy. 1.7 miles. It was relatively warm 35f and the sidewalks were wet, but not icy!

I did a few short runs after at the 182 cadence and some of the CFE drills.

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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Ragnar Great River – My Running Legs

This will be the first in at least two posts about Ragnar.

Inflated Logo

The basics of a relay race is that you split up the 193 mile race into more doable segments.  Ragnar’s Great River Relay is broken into 36 legs which get split up between 12 runners (or 6 in the Ultra division). The average runner ran 16 miles over 3 runs.  I personally ran 13 miles.  At least one person ran in the 20’s.   Several people in my van were in marathon training and this is good timing for “long runs.” The 12 runners are split into 2 vans of who leap frog each other throughout the overnight relay.

I was in Van 1 which was “on” first.  I was runner number 3 which meant I ran leg 3, 15, and 27.

Leg 3 was fairly flat and on wide-open road. I ran on the shoulder as much as possible. The route took a turn off WI-35 (which the runners saw, but many vans missed) onto a country road in corn fields! I had seen a bank sign that said 85 degrees and there was no doubt that the humidity was quite high, but it was very cloudy. This leg had non-supported sections, which meant that in places my van could give me water. I misunderstood the wording of the Race Bible – legs that were “non-supported” would have water stops if they were over 4 miles. I assumed I’d have a water stop, so I was disappointed after the half-way mark when there weren’t any. With about 1.5 miles to go my van caught up to me (they missed the turn) and gave me some water! I finished the 5.3 miles in 46:56 or 8:52 pace.

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The great thing about Ragnar is that you run through the night! Any runner on the road after 7:30pm had to have a reflective vest, a head light, and a tail light on. Any member of the team outside the van after 7:30pm had to wear a reflective vest. After relaxing at Major Exchange 12 in Stockholm, WI our van took back over for our night leg. I didn’t end up running until after 11pm. I woke up at 5am on Friday to finish getting ready and to pick up the van, etc. I was surprised that I didn’t feel too bad – though there was lots of adrenaline. It was in the mid 70’s and still quite humid, though there was no sun since it was dark!

Leaving Water Stop
All geared up I ran Leg 15’s 5.22 miles in 45 minutes for an 8:38 pace. This route ended up being hillier than I had expected it to be. I knew there was one hill towards the beginning, but it seemed like there were more noticeable hills. I could have also just been getting tired! Running in the dark was quite interesting. You couldn’t see very far ahead, behind, or around you and all you could see in the distance was little red flashing lights of runners and Ragnar signs. I did have a water stop this time! The dark also made it quite hard for vans to figure out if you were their runner or not, but mine did find me and cheer me on. As I got closer to the exchange area, I started to see lots of headlights and a glow so I knew I was getting close. On each leg Ragnar posts a sign that says “One Mile to Go” but on this particular leg it seemed to take forever for that last mile. I got 8 “road kills” on this section. In Ragnar language a road kill is a person that you pass from another team. I only got passed by one guy. For whatever reason, the headlamp I was wearing gave the weird sensation of wearing sunglasses. It was something to do with how the light was shaped. It was fun running in the dark!

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We were able to shower and eat spaghetti sauce (they ran out of noodles) at Prescott High School (Major Exchange 18) before driving through some very dense fog to get to Stillwater, MN. It was 2 or 3am and I was driving. It was a little nerve racking because there were runners and lots of vans on the road, though fortunately, not many other cars. We decided to stop in Hudson for breakfast at Denny’s. I’m pretty sure I was the only person awake in the van (don’t tell Ragnar that my Safety Officer fell asleep!) After Denny’s we drove to Major Exchange 24 in Stillwater, just North of the Liftbridge. I had to sleep in the driver’s seat of the van and maybe got 30 minutes of real sleep. We had miscalculated our timing and I started waking up the van around 5:45 to get ready. After 6:30am runners and support people were no longer required to be illuminated.

Hodge Podge Van

My last leg was 27. Now in Minnesota we switched to more suburban areas for most of the run. Just an FYI that this exchange didn’t have port-a-potties, good thing I didn’t need one. This leg started out on the road and went under I-94 before running on a paved trail next to the roads. This felt like a long steady uphill, but I’m sure my legs were completely exhausted at this point. I’m not sure of the temperature, but it was very overcast and very humid. The fog actually almost felt like a mist at points. I got at least 8 more road kills on this leg. Some guy passed me, which made me mad, then I realized he wasn’t wearing the Ragnar Wrist Band (the baton) so I didn’t feel quite as bad! I got a couple of road kills at the very end and set Mike up to get a few himself! I did the 3.38 miles in 27:15 or 8:04 pace. (Note: each leg was faster than the last!) It felt really good to be done. We didn’t have a lot of time to sit around though, because most of these legs were fairly short. So I stretched a little and off we went.

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You can kind of see an exchange in this video.  This is me running into my final exchange handing off to Mike:


After my final leg I was triumphant, as seen in this short video:


After arriving at Major Exchange 30 at Lifetime in Woodbury our team started to break apart.  Our van was done with running and a few people needed to head out so we sorted out the van, drove some people to their cars, and ended up with only 2 of us waiting around at the Boom Island finish area.  We got massages, ate some pizza, and tried to relax.  My body was so worn out that it didn’t like the idea of laying down on the grass.  Several hours later I got the call – we are dropping off the last runner.  A 3rd teammate rejoined us and 7 of us waited anxiously for the final runner to come down the trail.  We joined her about 100 yards from the finish and ran triumphantly across the finish line!! We had done it!

Team Hodge Podge finished 169th out of 286 teams for a total time of 29:46:15 which is an average 9:19 pace! Well done ! (full results)

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Quarter-Mile Speed Test

Usain Bolt in celebration after his 100m victo...
Image via Wikipedia

How fast can you run a 1/4 of a mile, 400 meters, or once around the track?  My 400 meter PR is 52 seconds which I obtained in the last race of my college career in the middle of an 800 during a 4×800 meter relay, the second 400 didn’t go quite as well!  If I had been able to continue that pace it would have been a 3:28 mile!! Or a 1:30 marathon.  That would be amazing, too bad I couldn’t even hold it for a second 400 meters!

The current marathon world record is 2:03:59 by Haile Gebrselassie which is a 4:43 mile or a 70 second 400.  The current 100 meter world record is 9.58 held by Usain Bolt, this is a 2:35 mile pace or 1:07:19 marathon, impressive!

What’s the point of all these numbers? A writer for the Star-Tribune decided to try and match Jason Lehmkuhle’s Boston Marathon pace (5:03) for 400 meters. Lehmkule ran a 2:12:24 for ninth place.  Can you run a flat out 5:03? My TC 1 Mile time is 5:26 from last year, so I couldn’t even keep up with Jason for a mile.  So Lehmkule’s average 400 meter time was 75 seconds.  The Strib writer, Michael Rand (athlinks), ran a 76 second quarter and was in his own words “spent”.

It was an interesting experiment that shows how amazing the elite runners really are.  Rand is in training for a marathon and has a PR of 4:30.  I like what he says:

I could not quite even run 1 percent of a marathon distance at a world-class pace — let alone conceive of actually running the other 99 percent or so that fast.

How far can you run at a world class pace?

Be sure to check out the full article and video.

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