Thursday, April 29, 2010

Miwok - ready or not.

Here is what I wrote back at the start of the year when laying out my goals for the year of racing...

Miwok 100K (CA) - 11:00 10:30 (Olga is keeping me honest...)
And a top 10 finish while I'm at it. I don't ask for much. Kami Semick won this race the past 2 years. 2008 was the muddy year and I can't recall what her time was but last year she was just over 9 hours. Incredible. But then she is in a different class. Representing the US on the 100K team and running some amazing times at 42 years of age no less.

Well, I might, er, be revising that slightly... I'll be happy with 11:30 and really don't even want to suggest where I will place.

It's been a rough few weeks of travel, work, bad eating and little exercise. I was feeling pretty miserable with my (lack of) race prep and was on the fence about the race - not even booking hotel accomodation until yesterday. But then last Sunday I went for a run from my Mum's house up around Carrowkeel on some of the same trails I'd run when home in March. Man, it was beautiful. I took a different trail, following the hill walking signs, running along in the blissful silence, bog on either side, Lough Gara far off to the right and Lough Arrow to the left, beyond the Curlew Mountains (hills really...). Sheeps and baby lambs for company. I knew there and then I was absolutely getting on the plane to SF tomorrow morning. Assuming, that is, I get packed sometime in the next 6 hours...

Whatever the outcome, it promises to be a beautiful day out. I'm lucky to have gotten a lottery spot and am looking forward to running in the California spring weather, meeting new people, and discovering new trail
... all the while being perfectly at home :)

Sunday, April 25, 2010


One of the movies that stays with me the most from the past several years is "Kings", adapted from Jimmy Murphy's critically-acclaimed play The Kings Of The Kilburn High Road. It's a fairly true to life account of many an Irish ex-pat living in north London in the 70's and 80's. And the acting, particularly by Colm Meaney, hits the mark.

There's a lot of relevance in this movie to my own background, not just family history (my parents having emigrated to London in the 60's, returning to Ireland in '79 with my 4 older siblings and myself, a soon-to-be 1yr old, in tow), but in the broader sense of my experience growing up. Still, the words that I am oft reminded of are not specific to the Irish-English connection...

Wondering if he'd be better off returning to the country of his birth, one of the main characters sums up his lack of a sense of belonging:

We're never at home, neither here nor there

It's funny the effect those words have on me. For the most part, I consider myself lucky to have many places I call home. My house in Minneapolis, my family home, the area where I grew up, and a number of other places that for whatever reason have always made me feel "at home". But still, there is something unsettling about hearing those words spoken as if they were spoken just for me.

As always, I've enjoyed this trip home (I am still here - extended a few more days due to work). And as always, I am more happy than sad to be returning to home in MN.

In many ways, I never want to have just one home. But why then can I not let go of those words?

Monday, April 19, 2010

In brief...

- Chippewa race report will be late, very late

- The chapter for SLG's book will also take a little longer than planned

- After more than 30 trips through Amsterdam airport I actually stepped outside the door last Thursday to breathe Dutch air for the first time

- That was followed by my first visit to Belgium and the north east corner of France

- I know the Eurostar schedule by heart

- But that's useless information if it's fully booked

- The Eurotunnel car-train takes exactly 35 minutes; which, you have to think is quicker than swimming across

- Countless hotels and other travel related businesses are making a mint on the back of a volcano

- Despite this, the kindness of strangers is what I'll remember most from my travels at the end of last week

- That, and the fact that "daily disposable" contact lenses still work perfectly well after 5 days

- And having no luggage is not the end of the world

- At least not when you are lucky enough to get the loan of a lovely dress for a very important occasion at very short notice

- After 40 hours without sleep, you will sleep anywhere

- 40 hours is still waay shorter than most people take to do Arrowhead...

- I have undertaken zero physical exercise since last Wednesday

- And I now have a bad headcold so I don't plan on doing any in the next few days either

- Miwok in less than 2 weeks? I am not so sure that's a good idea

- Though I suppose I should first think about actually getting back to the US

- But before that, sleep...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

An EVENT-full weekend...

What a great weekend to be running in the midwest!

Locally we had the second edition of the
Zumbro 100 which saw some great times on a tough course especially for runners coming off winter training. I enjoyed the few hours I spent there Friday afternoon/evening getting to see all of the runners pass through either the start/finish area or later at AS 1/4. It was still relatively early in the race so everyone was looking very strong and still smiling... well, perhaps not everyone was smiling. Congrats to John Storkamp who held a commanding lead throughout the day on Friday, battled through stomach issues in the night, and took the win in 23:20.

Saturday morning we set off for New Auburn at an early hour - to run the
Chippewa Moraine 50K. A very scenic jaunt along the Ice Age Trail. We all had a good run and it was great to catch up with so many people - all of us very glad that Jeff resurrected the wonderful race that Wynn had conceived of and directed in '08 & '09. I was very happy to win it again though as with last year I was humbled by how tough the relentless hills were. At a glance it seems like an "easier" course than other local 50K but my legs were having none of it yesterday! The full race report will follow shortly.

Further south, in Kansas, a group of local runners took part in the
Olathe Marathon and, quite simply, kicked ass! Brian Peterson whose name you'll know from the local trails ran an amazing 2:36 to win (and PR by about 20 minutes). MN took 6 of the 10 men's places with ultrarunners Joe Zigenfuss and Tony Kocanda among them. And in the women's race my buddy Shelley Nelson took 2nd place in 3:17 (another big PR).

Friday, April 9, 2010

Zumbro 100 Updates

Just left the fun at Zumbro and will post this as soon as cell coverage returns!

I spent a few hours at the start/finish area of the 20 mile loop course and then headed over to AS 1 / 4 to catch up with Jen...

Mile 37.1 splits -

John Storkamp 6:15 (43.1 @ 7:25 / 57.1 @ 10:38)
Kyle Gulseth 7:22 (43.1 @ 8:49)
Bob Triplett 7:36 (43.1 @ 8:52)
Brad Birkholz 7:50 (43.1 @ 9:05)
Adam Schwartz-Lowe 7:50 (43.1 @ 9:10)
Brian Woods 8:12 (43.1 @ 9:34)
Zach Pierce 8:19 (43.1 @ 10:13)
Matt Patten 8:20 (43.1 @ 9:52)
Adrian Belitu 8:32 (43.1 @ 10:13)
Darrell Saari 8:43 (43.1 @ 10:26)
Dale Humphrey 8:47 (43.1 @ 10:15)
Kevin Guest 8:51 (43.1 @ 10:35)
John Taylor 8:55 (43.1 @ 10:35)
Tim Roe 9:10
James Benike 9:27
Susan Donnelly 9:31
Rob Apple 9:34
Scott Mark 9:34
Dennis Drey 9:35
Lynn Saari 9:42
Sara Lovett 9:42
Ryan Carter 10:03
Allan Holtz 10:30
Jason Husveth 10:49

John is smoking it. Matt's hanging in there - well, he's doing more than that! He looks in good form but said his knee is bugging him a bit. Zach doing great - he's been running with Adrian from Chicago who's getting in a nice training run with a big year ahead! Lynn & Sara are running together and looking strong... Amy was heading out with Jason as I was leaving. Don is biking the loop! And Maria ran a loop earlier.

A beautiful day for it - almost too warm for an hour or two in the afternoon when the temps were in the mid-60's. But it'll get pretty chilly later on and into the night. Trail conditions are excellent.

Brent Bjerkness unfortunately had to drop early in the 2nd loop.

SHT-Duluth and more spring trail running...

How lucky are we with this incredible early spring weather?

We made the most of it last weekend (can't believe it's Friday already by the time I am posting this - another crazy week), heading up to the Duluth section of the SHT on Saturday. Myself, Vale, Eric, Kami and Jim (male masters - meet your new competition!) left the Twin Cities around 5AM and met up with
Lisa, Ron and Jeff at the Grand Portage trailhead in Jay Cooke State Park for an 8AM start.

It started out a little chilly and with the wind in places I was glad to have worn a light jacket (super light -
the north face women's hydrogen jacket - it weighs a couple oz and is perfect for a day like this).

We took a detour to stand atop Elys Peak (towering over the St. Louis river at 1,250ft!)...

Along the way we met up with Jeff's wife Patrice several times - it was awesome to have crew! And Lisa had also stashed some food and water near the Zoo area (did someone really ask what's in the Zoo? :) The only downside to the whole day was seeing that horses had been through here and mucked up parts of the still very soft trail. And worse than that there was horse crap in the middle of the trail in several spots. We came across the culprits just before our last section in the Piedmont area and did not get a very pleasant reaction from them. I hope we can identify them as Lisa confirmed they should not have been on the trail despite their claims.

After Lisa's wonderful hospitality (and delicious salsa & beer) - we had an pretty entertaining ride back to the car in the
Honda FIT - how many can YOU fit in a FIT?


Sunday morning I had a lovely run at Afton with Alicia H who has just moved to the Twin Cities from Duluth. I'd only met Alicia briefly at a few races last year so it was alot of fun getting to know her better and chatting about various races etc. Especially her attempt at the Arrowhead 135 earlier this year. Some day...

The snow was almost gone from the ski hills and the park is getting ready for the year ahead burning off various sections over the past week.

The rest of the week has been pretty non-eventful. As usual when I don't run much my hanstrings tighten up - though this week was worse than usual. I went for an easy run with Karen on the Luce Line on Wednesday night and had to walk after a few miles. Not good! But the next morning my hamstrings were so much looser. Though I did tweak my inner left one Monday evening in hot yoga so that's bothering me a little - I can't get into Star pose at all as it's just too tight to stretch laterally.


But apart from that I've had some really good classes this week - finally being able to balance in Toe Stand with hands in prayer (ok, for all of 2 seconds)...


But more on hot yoga later (soon!).

Taking a half day today and heading down to
Zumbro for a few hours to hang out, support, heckle... looks to be a beautiful day. Hopefully the weather holds for tomorrow's fun at Chippewa.