Monday, July 27, 2009

More Photos from Voyageur

These photos are displayed in reverse order.

The second half has no photos, as I left he camera with the family at mile 25. The second half was a great run because of Ryan Carter. We ended up blowing through the power lines as if we wanted more. We didn't want more.
I learn an important lesson during the second half of every race. Actually, it's a lesson that is put into practice during the entire race but the reality of which is not truly realized until later in the race: even though things seem really bad, desperate and impossible, and even though things sometimes get worse than they are presently, the key is to simply keep moving, regardless the speed. Eventually, the mind wins out over the body. The body rejuvenates. A downhill section puts energy back into the stride. An uphill is tackled more quickly than imagined. The mud puddles and streams don't matter anymore. The distance to the end does get smaller. The key is to not stop.
I also ran a little with Aaron from church.

The whole crew met me at the Duluth Zoo, the half-way turn around.
Marty, Zeke in the lap, Grace directly behind me, then Eli, Emma and #63 Levi.

I shed the camera at this point for fear of impending rain. Thus, no photos prior (after) this one. Unlike at Leadville, here I actually recognized everyone and conversed. Marty has made it very clear to me that if she's going to drag everyone to one of my races, I better be able "to acknowledge that they are there." Actually, she used much more descriptive and creative language.
Miles 10 to 22 were awful. I felt sick, weak, and demoralized. This happened at Afton as well. I know why. I'm not training as much this year. As I entered the 25 mile aid station, my only hope was that I would be able to walk out the last 25 miles and make all the cut-offs.
Sat down, drank a full can of Coke, thrust water bottle and bladder to TEAM BUTTON, and took off soggy shoes and soggy, dirt-stained socks in order to remove the tape I had placed on several toes. The tape was actually rubbing the non-tapped toes. The soggy socks and shoes went back on - why change when there was no end of wetness?
This may cause some problems at home. The boys dislike changing their socks. They try to go days without changing them. They sleep in them at nights if we don't catch it. Why? We've given up asking. They noticed that I was putting my soggy, dirty socks back on.
My goal was to be out of this aid station by 5 hours 30 minutes. I was out at 5:30:20.

The view of Lake Superior and the waterway were spectacular. This was taken on the catwalk in Spirit Mountain ski resort.

This course has the best variation of running surfaces I've ever run. Paved roads, miles of single track, rocks, roots, boulders, power line climbing, mud, puddles, dozens of stream crossings, gravel roads. And all the surfaces that I dislike only lasted for a very short distance.
Here, about a half mile of paved road before entering Spirit Mountain.

That's me. Or at least part of me. The sheen is sweat. Salty sweat. The result of nearly 25 salt tablets at this point in the race. For the entire distance: 60 salt tablets. For the last 3 hours one was going down every 10 minutes.

The infamous power lines. I figured that since I'd run at Leadville, these would be easy. I always felt that there are two possible things that could ruin me, one of which is pride. Pride is not good, in fact it's deadly, if one is overzealously wrong. I was wrong. These were very difficult climbs. Short, yes, but very difficult. Leadville is filled with climbs that border on infinity, but are manageable if one puts their head down and just plods. These power line climbs were... well, I'd just say that I've never run/walked a steeper incline in my life.

Yes, that's Steve Quick again. This time he's ahead of me. And yes, this portion of the race did resemble Bogota, Columbia.

That's me again; earlier in the race. Less sheen. Fewer salt tablets at this point. Still a lot of chest hair. Yes, that's a GoLite pack. It's my favorite hydration system so far. Positives: holds a large resevoir, stays relatively cool on the back, doesn't irritate the skin too badly, the side pockets are reachable and roomy, lots of room in back pocket for stuff, very light. Negatives: the bladder sits too low (Camelbak seems to have the best design for this), the chest strap and underarm adjusting straps are limited in how tight they pull by their design.

Start of the race. Marty doesn't get to join me for many of these, so this was a treat. That's a Garmin 305, not the newest, but still nice. The battery went dead on me just 1 mile from the finish. I have a little contraption that I found/created to recharge while running. I used it at FANS and Leadville.
The newest circular Garmin 405 appears to have the same short battery life problem. In fact, it's rated for fewer hours than the older 305. Who does Garmin think uses these watches?
It appears that the Garmin 305XT has a battery life of 20 hours. And yet, for "Sport Watch" it is labeled "No." What does that mean?

Finally, the first photo. Taken on Friday night outside the Cozy Cafe in Carlton. I met the lady in the blue FANS shirt at FANS. She's was 7 miles short of 1000 miles this year at FANS; and that's walking.

MN Voyageur Photos

I thought I'd post photos in a rolling fashion. Rolling because I don't have the stamina yet to write a full race report, and also because I haven't been able to find the camera since returning home. Actually, I haven't really started looking.

So, here are some photos that are courtesy of Zach Pierce. Check out his other great photos of the race here.

The start of the race. 7:00am. I was pretty much planning on seeing this spot again at 8pm.

About 50 feet into the race. I've assessed my feet, legs, arms, stomach, and I'm feeling good. At This point in the race, I'm usually pretty confident about breaking some sort of course record.

That's my left arm there in the foreground. I spend a reasonable amount of time trying to get that thing bigger; the muscle part. Usually before a race, I look pretty buff. By the finish, all my muscle tone is gone. Just imagine that the guy's arm just behind me is my arm.

Yes, that's me in front of Steve Quick! During the first part of power lines, Steve was looking at my rear end! His topless approach inspired me...see later photos.

Topless, 3.4 miles from the end. That's Ryan Carter on my left. I caught up with him at mile 32ish. We ran together to the end. It was a great partnership. We talked, pushed each other, took turns leading (to deal with the psychological problems associated with always leading or following), and basically kicked out an awesome second 25 miles together. I would not have been able to get in under 12 hours had I not run with Ryan.

Some utlra legends: Zach Pierce, Carl Gammon and Matt Patton.

I'll post some of the pictures I took from the course once I find the camera; no, once I start looking for the camera.

Friday, July 24, 2009

MN Voyaguer 50 Miler - Tomorrow

Duluth is a great place to visit. Can't wait to run tomorrow. Can wait for the impending rain.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Stick Problems

I took Emma out to drive the other night. I decided that a teenage girl like Emma needs to know how to drive a manual transmission. So, I took Emma to the Target parking lot in the Saab.

We took it slow with only two goals: getting the car into motion and getting the car out of motion. She excelled.

Here's what worked best: getting her to feel the car begin to roll as the clutch was let out, and then slowly giving it gas. With this approach, she got the car rolling flawlessly 3 times.

Tomorrow night we do a little more manual transmission work before Eli's lacrosse game.

Friday, July 17, 2009


In college, my good friend Keith Jones made it possible for me to go to a U2 concert.
I'm a U2 junkie.
After listening to their newest album several hundred times, I'm convinced that it is one of the best compilations of modern music, second only to "How to dismantle an atomic bomb," "Hello Love," and "Taylor Swift."
So, when I heard on the radio the other day that U2 was in concert, I thought, "Huh, I'll bet Marty would never let me go." That night, very tactfully, I mentioned it. She did not immediately say I was crazy.
Tonight, after asking some friends in Chicago if we could spend a few nights with them, I purchased 5 tickets; Marty and Zeke didn't think they would enjoy it; even though Zeke knows most of the new U2 songs by memory
Road trip!
I can't wait to hear & see "Magnificant" live.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Some people blog daily. I fear that were I to blog daily, the blog would become dribble, typed out of a sense of duty, void of substance, and a waste of time for people who do check in here.

Some people blog after every run. If I were to do that, I wouldn't blog but once a week. Well, the week after Afton, I would have blogged 3 times. But each of those runs were no longer than 2 miles.

Some people blog when inspired. My wife waits to blog until a thought makes her laugh. Then, she relishes in the whole writing process and usually can't wait for me to read what she's written. It's almost always time well spent to read one of her blog posts.

Realizing that I have not written in some time, I am at a loss for a reason to blog tonight. I'm not inspired, I didn't run today, or the day before, and I certainly have not bound myself to blogging as a daily ritual. So, what's on my mind?

I've a longish run tomorrow. Voyageur 50 is next weekend, so it can't be too long. Just enough to loosen up and remind my legs what a trail is. But that's tomorrow. I've only once before written about a run I have yet to do.

Here's what's on my mind: projects. I've got lots of projects that are in some stage of projectness. Here they are:
1. building a wood stove contraption to heat the swimming pool. For the past month, I've been sweating 1" copper tubing around a cast iron wood stove (purchased on Craigslist). When finished, I'll connect the pool filter hose to the copper tubing. Water will flow from the pool, through the pump and filter, then through the copper and back into the pool. When the stove is stoked, the fire should heat the copper tubing. So many variables that will effect whether it actually works: will the soder hold up (I used lead-free soder), is 1" to narrow and will the water flow too quickly to effectively heat, will the copper tubing cause the chemical balance in the pool water to change, and so on.

2. back hallway laundry room and pantry. I tore this apart last summer while waiting for the MN bar results. I was a little nervous and had lots of energy. Since then, we've been toying with various designs for putting it back together. I'm afraid to move forward on this until we've got the perfect idea. Yes, it might be years.

3. crawl space reinsulating. I began this project in the winter of 2006-2007. The kids' rooms were cold. I went under the floor to see why. The vents to their rooms had been shut off. In figuring this out, I saw that the insulation between the joists was mouse infested and gross. So, I began replacing it. Wow, is that messy. So messy, that I've put off finishing ever since.

4. clearing the forest of wood piles. There must be nearly 3000 stacked piles of cut tree trunks left by the previous owner throughout the woods. They jsut sit there and really don't do anything but rot. However, I really dislike how they look. It just isn't natural. Since 2005, we've been hauling them out and burning them. We're about 1/20 of the way done. It's kind of like running an ultra.

In fact, all my projects are like running an ultra.

"It's not a hill, it's a mountain
As you start out the climb
Do you believe me, or are you doubting
We're gonna make it all the way to the light
But I know I'll go crazy if I don't go crazy tonight"