Saturday, June 27, 2009

Couldn't Do It

I had everything set out. The checklist filled out and items checked.
Shoes on the table, socks and gators in the shoes.

This would be my first run at Afton since....the last time I ran at Afton. The last time I ran at Afton was March 20. I really didn't run at Afton; the trail was so rough I ended up running the road.

So, I was really excited about waking at 4:45 to get out and run the 25K loop at 6:00; all on trails. I usually don't run on Saturdays. I don't want to miss the family time. So, Fridays are my long days. I can get up, get a long run in, and be in the office by 11. I can also usually squeeze a shower in there somewhere.

Also, as most of you know, the Afton 50K is next Saturday, and I really need to get some trail time in.

I woke at 2:20. Zeke had gotten out of bed and had taken up a new sleeping location on the floor outside our bedroom door. I deposited his limp body back in his bed. That's when the thunder and lightening started. And rain.

I don't mind running in just about any weather. But after FANS, I really dislike wet.
At 2:30, I checked the weather radar on the iPhone. Through squinty eyes, I could tell that this rain was going to last until at least 8 or 9.

So, I shut off all the alarms (there are a few), and went back to sleep.

I guess my first real run out at Afton this year will have to wait until the actual race. See you all next Saturday! I should be well rested.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Marx & Me, and Dean, Mara Liisa, and Marty

We made it downtown last night. Adults, out on the town, going to an adult restaurant, eating and talking sans children. Fiction miraculously turned fact.

I parked in a handicap spot, put on the emergency flashers, and dashed into the Marx. How does one know exactly when a restaurant stops serving dessert? The host rattled off, from memory, at least eight mutli topping, multi unknown-words desserts that from their descriptions led me to believe that we would be getting mouse-size portions regardless of the choice. Oh well, maybe that's what adults without children eat.

I retraced my steps to the flashing, yet-unticketed car and relayed this adult information. The ladies exited to secure seats. Dean and I drove to my office where we parked and enjoyed a stroll back to the restaurant. Oh, did I mention that the restaurant was Marx?

We had:
1. great conversation: more parenting talk, concern about socialistic propensities of college instruction, and a brief explanation of why I have enjoyed reading Nietzsche. I forgot to add "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" to my book list of yesterblog.
2. great desserts. These were not mouse-size portions. Quite the contrary.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Another Dean & Me

I've an actual friend named Dean. Not THE Dean, but a Dean.
Dean, if you read this, you are actually more valuable to me than THE Dean.
THE Dean, if you read this, I'm certain that you would also be a valuable friend if you lived closer than the West Coast. Rest assured that you have inspired me.

Dean and his wife came over this afternoon to discuss parenting, swim, talk and eat pizza. Unbeknownst to me, my wife had told them to bring overnight supplies in case they wanted to spend the night; they live on the other side of the Cities, which is basically in South Dakota. Plus, we attend church together in the Cities, and so we could all get up together and head out to church.

Well, here it is, 9:41. Lots of good parenting talk, good pizza, and now dessert downtown. Evidently the Dock closes in 10 minutes. 9:50? That's way to early for such a classy restaurant.
We'll try Marx and then, if that doesn't work, the old faithful... Cub Foods.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dean & Me

The other night I finished reading Dean's book, Ultramarathon Man, for the third time. If you have 6 minutes and 10 seconds, this video gives a good idea of what his book is like.

Some books have nudged me. What I mean is that they have altered the manner in which I think about a given subject or given me a perspective that I didn't previous possess:
Intellectuals, Paul Johnson
Poland, James Michener
Banner of Heaven, Jon Krakauer
Lincoln, Carl Sandberg
Here I Stand, Roland Bainton
Freddy the Detective, Walter Brooks
The Count of Monte Cristo, Dumas
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Pirsig
Father of the Bride, Edward Streeter
Beyond Good and Evil, Friedrich Nietzsche
Tess of the D'Ubervilles, Hardy

Some books have greatly influenced me; leaving me significantly altered in thought and action:
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Parkinson's Law, Northcote Parkinson
South, Ernest Shackleton
The Orthodox Church, Timothy Ware
Charlotte Mason's volumes of delight-directed learning
Managing the Non-Profit Organization, Peter Drucker
The Three -Martini Playdate, Christie Mellor

Several books simply are who I am; that is, I am who I am because of these books:
the Bible
Future Grace, John Piper
almost every audio sermon by Piper (which impact me more readily than his books)
Religious Affections, Jonathan Edwards
portions of Calvin's Institutes
I Loved A Girl, Walter Trobisch
Growing Kids God's Way, Ezzo
The Return of the Prodigal Son, Henri Nouwen

I would have to say that Ultramarathon Man is now in this last category, not because it possesses divinely appointed words, or even subject matter; rather, it is a simplistic account of a man's insatiable desire for adventure and quest to find out how far he can push himself. Along the way, he meets incredible people, sees things others rarely see, runs farther than he imagined he could, and struggles to answer the question, "why is he doing this?" He runs through the night, when he's exhausted, where no one else has run, and he concludes that he is a better man, a better husband and father because of it.

I have found almost similar, although certainly far less demanding and dangerous, experiences: night running is quietly beautiful, hitting the 34 mile mark in a 50 mile run is exhiliarating, running 7 minute miles for the last two miles of a 50k is uncanny, and I am almost always a better, more patient, more thoughtful person after my long runs (from my perspective!).

So, with it fresh on my mind and legs, this is my unapologetic plug for Dean's book.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

FANS - the more full story

I arrived at Lake Nokomis at 6:30am prepared to fight off a bright, sunny day.
Donned in shorts and a short sleeve shirt, I chatted with Helen and then weighed in.
With agility and oneness of purpose, I quickly returned to the truck where I added to my body a long sleeve shirt and running pants.

I then helped one of the volunteers set up a tent. When I could no longer feel my fingers because of the cold, I returned to the truck where I added to the long sleeve shirt and running pants: gloves, hat, another long sleeve shirt and a coat. Then, I sat in the truck with the heater on.

When I run, I run hot. I never run with pants on unless it's below 10 degree Fahernheit-even then, reluctantly. So, at 7:56, I stood at the starting line with a short sleeve, long sleeve and shorts. This worked fine until it began to rain - about 20 minutes later.

Rain, aka wetness, is fine. Wind is fine. Cold is fine. When all three converge, it is not fine. At 8:40am I was not fine.

On went running pants, a running jacket, gloves and a hat. All were soaked clear through by 9:00am. I had no water proof clothing and only two more long sleeve shirts. I had to ration.

Around noon, Marty and the kids arrive. The boys ran 1 lap with me. Then they left.

I started to get real cold. What to do? What saved me? A black trash bag. This kept new rain out and a little heat in. I must have been quite a sight: my head sticking out from the bottom of a trash bag, arms inside, holding the opening tight around my waist so the bag wouldn't flare out into a large dress.

Fast forward to 3pm. Three hours into a new pair of shoes; completely soaked. Rationing dry clothes was starting to look problematic. I had only two long sleeve shirts left.

I called Marty, back home, preparing to attend Addis' graduation ceremony.
"Yes, I already know what you're going to ask. More dry clothes."
"How did you know?"

5pm, still wearing the trash bag, my lovely wife pulls up. She had very wisely thrown in several items that literally saved the run and enabled me to run through the night: a water proof running jacket (that I didn't know was waterproof until then) and non-water-retaining gloves.

With dry clothes, and the potential of keeping the upper body dry, I ran well until about 10:30 when a good friend from church suddenly appeared. Dean ran 1 lap with me, then chatted with the Hansons (also from church. Their son Aaron was running and they were crewing). He ran the second lap to catch me, and then, as I persisted, ran a third lap with me.

Around 11, I realized that I wasn't going to hit 100 miles, and decided to just beat 76, my previous long distance. Around 11:30, I found that I was really tired, so took a 15 minute nap in the truck. The next two laps were great followed by a tough third lap. So, I napped again for 15 minutes. Again, the next two laps were great followed by a tough third lap. Each good lap was taking me about 38 minutes; bad laps about 45 minutes.

Running through the night was beautiful. I've done many nighttime runs, some starting early and ending some time during the night, some starting very early (1am) and running until light. I had never run through the night before.

I napped a third time and woke at 6:30. I ran two final laps in 33 minutes each and then began running the short laps with everyone else. I felt great at the end and ran behind Michael Henze, the overall winnner, for about 12 minutes at a blinding pace. It appears that I may have covered over 2.5 miles in the last 22 minutes.

Would I do FANS again. Beforehand, I had decided I would only do it once. Why run on pavement around and around when Kettle Moraine is the same weekend? After the run, I said never again. Marty, however, said, "Yeah. And by Wednesday you'll be saying something different."

Wednesday morning I decided that I'd do FANS again next year if possible. Why?
1. It's close to home. I don't have to spend an extra night away from family.
2. The family can come watch and help.
3. I ended up liking the 2.4 mile loop. I knew exactly when the aid station was coming and when different landmarks would show up. I could very easily use different landmarks as "carrots;" "I only have to run until I reach...." and I was never surprised.
4. The volunteers are incredible! It is very heartening to have people encouraging me every 35 minutes.
5. The race is very conducive to talking with other runners while running. I met so many runners that I've heard about or read about but never met.
6. As long as I was mindful of my form, the pavement was not bad for me. My trail shoes worked very well. It was only when I had to switch to road shoes that the blisters began.
7. The aid stations were stocked really well. I have never eaten such good boiled potatoes!
8. The race shirt is, after Afton (sorry Wynn), one of my favorite.

Friday, June 12, 2009

FANS 24 HOUR - Short Version

This is the short version of my FANS 24 HOUR race this past weekend for those who just like the highlights:

1. 86.86 miles
2. Wet and cold for 18 hours
3. Blisters on the bottoms of my heels
4. Consumed lots of food
5. Visited the porta potties often
6. Walked a lot
7. Great volunteers!
8. Saw a puddle morph into a bunny rabbit and jump up at my face (at 3 in the morning)
9. Met lots of other ultra runners
10. Did not go as crazy as I thought I would going around and around a 2.4127 mile course.