Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mo Better Trail Runs

I've been back home since late Thursday night. Lisa and I had a wonderful time in Mohican reliving our honeymoon. The weather was gloomy and wet, just like it was 25 years ago. The weather didn't matter then nor did it matter now. We went out and visited all the sights in the park, including the Covered Bridge, the Falls, the Fire Tower and the Gorge Overlook. We had dinner one night in the nearby town in one of two "fine dining" establishments. After chatting with the waitress it turns out it was the same restaurant from 25 years ago, just under new management with at new name. We definitely enjoyed our time there.

Of course the two days in the park weren't all romance and nostalgia; I had to get a couple of runs in. One of the first things I did was send an email out to Nick. I know he runs in Mohican regularly. I has hoping we could hit the trails for a 6-8 mile run. Unfortunately the logistics didn't quite work out but I was able to get in a couple of shorter runs on my own.

Wednesday morning I parked at the dam and ran the trails to Little Lyons and Big Lyons Falls out to the covered bridge and back to the dam on the Pleasant Hill Trail. It was raining but the tree canopy is so dense that I didn't get all that wet. The second day, I parked at the covered bridge, ran through a campground and out the Hickory Gorge Trail to another camp ground and back. About 4 miles the first day and 6 the second. They were probably some of the easiest trails in Mohican and its wasn't exactly what the Yasso program might have called for, but it was fun.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Findley Run

The 50th anniversary party was a great success. My parent's were very appreciative of the travel certificate for an Alaskan Cruise.

Monday, we went up to the east side of Cleveland to visit a good family friend. The wife gave a reading at our wedding and she is our oldest son's godmother. And she's Italian. So we ate the whole day. We got there in time for lunch of chicken soup, homemade pizza and eggplant parmesan (from home grown eggplant), Texas caviar and cranberry orange bread. A few hours later we had dinner of veal, spaghetti, garlic bread and any leftovers from lunch and a wonderful tiramisu for dessert. Between the 8 of us we killed the entire desert.

Today is our last day at my parent's house. We are taking the kids back to the airport later this afternoon. Today offered me the most time to get in the 10 miler that was scheduled in the middle of the week. Back on the Yasso plan that would have meant the week with the 10 x 800's. My original thought was to try to do this workout on the track at the local HS football stadium. Other options were the marked trail at the Wellington Reservation I'd run on Sunday.

I drove all the way across town, less than a mile, to find out that the track was locked up and had a no trespassing sign. In the end I decided to head out to Findley State Park and run the Thorn Mountain Bike Trail. I always enjoy that run. It was a humid one this morning. The trail was the driest that I'd ever run it. Usually I'm slipping and a sliding all over the place. Along the way I saw at least 9 deer bounding off through the woods, an owl, a group of about 12 wild turkeys, 2 great blue herons and a mushroom about the size of a football helmet.

I ran about 9 miles total in 1:28. After the run I did some push ups, sit ups and tricep dips since I haven't gotten to work out at all since last Tuesday.

After dropping off the kids at the airport, Lisa and I are heading down to Mohican State Park. We are spending two nights in the lodge before heading back to California. 25 years ago we spent our honeymoon in the lodge for two nights. It will be a nice way to celebrate our 25th Anniversary. Our actual anniversary is September 29.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mirror Image

We made it to Ohio with only an hour delay due to bad weather in Atlanta. The kids made it it this morning after taking the red-eye into Cleveland.

I got up this morning for a 12 miler on the rails to trails path near my parents home. I'd checked the weather when I packed and was pleased to see the daily highs in the high 70's - low 80's. I packed my running gear accordingly - a couple of sleeveless and a short sleeve. What I hadn't given much thought to was the overnight low and the cool temps I'd be starting in.

I headed over to Kipton to jump on the same trail I'd run when I was here in June. When I got out of the car the temperature was 47 degrees. The only thing that was really cold were my hands. It took a couple of miles before they warmed up. Otherwise, the cool Ohio air was pretty nice to run in. I ran the same 12.5 miles as I did back in June. This time around it took me 1:53:14 compared to the 1:57 in the heat of June; a nice little improvement aided immensely by the cool temps.

I will likely get up tomorrow and continue the mirror image theme by running 4 miles at the Wellington Reservation I discovered in June. The rest of the day on Sunday will be spent at the Golden Anniversary Celebration.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Vote For Pedro

Being that I work in the Oral Care sector of the Health Care Industry, I am pretty adamant about getting my twice yearly dental cleanings. I had one the other day. The hygienists at this office do a general health screening that includes blood pressure and pulse. My BP was 114/68 and my pulse was 43. This was two days after running the HOA marathon. They seemed like pretty good numbers to me.

This week is still kind of a recovery week but also kind a week to get back into training for Number 15. I did an easy 5 miler in Bonelli on Cottontail and for the second time recently didn't see a single bunny.

I moved that run up a day, so that I could do a leg work out with my trainer on Tuesday night. Have I mentioned before how much he loves doing leg workouts, I should say making me do leg workouts. He even let me do dead lifts but threatened me with bodily harm if I didn't keep the form right. I was a good student.

Today, Wednesday, just before leaving work, he and I had the following text exchange:
Chris: How are the legs feelin'?
Darrell: Haha. A little sore. What were you expecting?
Chris: Paralyzed. Haha
Darrell: Almost, but not quite.

I'm still loosely following Yasso's plan, so today was 7 miles with hills and not to be treated as an easy run. With somewhat sore legs I decided to keep the distance the same and dialed back on the intensity and the hills. Rather than running the long hill I did the rolling hills in Bonelli. It was a good run and I took a good long time, 1:19.

I'll be up early tomorrow for a 4 miler and then I'm catching a plane to Ohio to for my parent's 50th Wedding Anniversary Celebration.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


With the completion of Heart of America, state number 14 on my quest for 50, some changes were in order on the blog. First and foremost was the change from Thirteen Down to Fourteen Down. I know you probably already noticed. We lived with that last title for 9 months, it was time for it to go. I also updated the blog layout back to one available in Blogger. I really wanted something that takes advantage of the whole page. I tweaked the colors to my liking. I guess I have a thing for that brownish-orange color. Its was also time for the WxDx almost daily postings to go as well. I do like the idea of posting more frequent, yet shorter posts. We'll see how it goes.

You may also have noticed the countdown over there to Fifteen Down. Yes, the next marathon has been booked. I was feeling pretty good going into Missouri and really wanted to take advantage of that and the air fare war that was going on a couple a weeks ago. I scoured for something that might fit the bill. My wife really has no vacation left, I was going to be traveling alone. For some reason she has little desire to visit the middle of America, so Des Moines won out over Albuquerque. In 5 weeks I'm back off to the IMT Des Moines Marathon.

It has been an odd week mileage wise in that the HOA marathon was on Monday. Last week was oddly low, at 13, and this week was oddly high, at 40.2. It all evens out in the end but it looks, well odd, in the books.

I ended the week with an easy 4 miler on the Picnic Loop in Bonelli. In, 2X around and back out gets it done. I wore a new pair of Brooks Adrenaline 8's I'd had stashed away in the closet. The pair that I wore at HOA had over 350 miles on them. Although I update the shoe mileage log semi regularly I wasn't thinking. Ordinarily I wouldn't have used 350 mile shoes for a marathon but my other choice was completely unused shoes which seemed like a less wise choice. The new 8's will be broken in nicely for Des Moines.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Powder Canyon

I guess this is why they call it Powder Canyon. My legs were covered with this fine dust half way up to my knees.

The recovery schedule I put together for myself had 6-8 miles on it today. I decided to head on over to Powder Canyon. This is a run the CA Cruisers did back in May. I had a note in my log that read, "LOVED THIS RUN!!" Today was a good day to go back and give it another shot. The basic route is about 8 miles, with many options to change it up or down.

Last time I was with a group of folks some of who had scouted the route. This time on my own, I took a wrong turn and went down a long section that dumped me into a neighborhood over a mile from where I needed to be. I thought the trail look unfamiliar and I didn't remember running such a steep downhill the last time. The lack of bike and foot prints should have been my clue but I stubbornly kept going. I turned around and walked back (off the clock) up the incline to get on track.

The rest of the run went off without a hitch. I ended up running for about 90 minutes and will call it 8 miles of running. The legs are a little sluggish but otherwise feeling good.

An HOA update: Joe sent me a link to a photo essay on the Heart of America Marathon in the Missourian. Pay close attention to the photo of the dudes in the ice tub. There's also a great shot of the young guy I mentioned at the finish line.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The HOA Afterglow

I was originally going to title this post "The HOA Aftermath", but then I thought that had too many negative connotations and there's really nothing negative to say about the Heart of America Marathon or my training leading up to it.

It is well documented that the last couple of years have been a struggle in terms of running. In 2006 I broke the 4 hour barrier at Seafair and crossed the finish line with Rob and then went on to set my Personal Best of 3:40:52 at St. George in the fall of 2006. I finished the year with a couple of slow but thoroughly enjoyable trail marathons. In 2007 I started off the year with a decent showing at Eugene on a flat course for a 3:44:39. I ended the year with 3 marathons in about 6 weeks time, all over th 4:00 mark. This was the beginning of the downward spiral. My legs were beginning to rebel and my training was pretty much stagnant. I refused to believe that I was running too many marathons since I knew plenty of others that did more with seemingly no negative consequences.

I started 2008 with a Winter Trail Running Series and eventually succumbed to a stress fracture in my right tibia. After 12 weeks of ZERO running and months of physical therapy, I began running again in June with 6 months to train for the St Jude Memphis Marathon. I suffered from shin splints along the way and went into the race with an inflamed hip. I was in pain from the first step but hung in there with Joe for a 4:36:15 finish. The canted roads of Memphis just exacerbated the hip issue and I started 2009 barely able to walk, let alone run.

A new doc, a orthopedic specialist and a runner, sent me off to a new physical therapist, also a runner for treatment of severe IT Band Syndrome and possible Femoral Acetabular Impingement. Jeff, the PT, worked wonders and the exercises they had me doing really helped strengthen the weakness in my legs. After 2 months of work I was running again, slower than ever (really as slow as when I first started in 2003) but I was running and pain free.

I kept running slowly and went to Jeff religiously. I was able to run a half marathon in March and even took on the Malibu Creek Trail Challenge in May. It was my slowest attempt at that race, but I wasn't hurting. I went out on a limb and signed up for the San Francisco Half. It was about this time that the Heart of America idea was hatched and I signed on.

I'd used the same marathon plan for the better part of 4 years. I needed something new to get me through to HOA. I've got several books and magazine articles with plans. I compared them all and settled on Bart Yasso's Intermediate Plan from his book "My Life on the Run". It was a 16 week plan. I jumped into it at week 2, just in time for HOA. I chose the plan because it was more challenging than what I'd been using but not so much so that I would risk getting injured again. I was a little apprehensive because the plan went up to 50 miles 4 weeks before the marathon and 50 miles had proven to be my threshold for injury in the past.

I zealously adhered to the plan. I looked forward to the hill days and even endured a 10 x 800 workout that I ended up kind of enjoying in a sick sort of way. I kept my easy days easy and my long run pace in check with a 5:1 run:walk system. And all along my legs were pain free.

Why am I so happy with my 4:23:05 at HOA? It's because it is a time that is in line with where I started back in 2004 and 2005, but I feel much better at the end of the races than I did back then and I recover much better. I feel like I'm on track for further improvement. At least I hope so.

Is the Yasso plan magical? I doubt it, but it does have years of experience behind it with Mr. Yasso and the many runners he has trained. The combination of run distances, tempos and workouts just seemed to work well for me.

Some of the other things that I think contributed to my comeback include:
1) working with a doc and a PT that are runners and understand runners. They both knew there was no sense in telling me not to run.
2) I switched out my shoes. I stayed with Brooks but on the advice of the PT I went from the Trance to the Adrenalines.
3) I went back to a run:walk schedule for the long runs and the marathon (I may go back to running only some day, I may not). The walk break has really helped me to dial in my hydration. I take a drink when I walk, I tend not to when I'm running.
4) I began working out with my trainer, Chris, more seriously in March at a smaller gym. I really think the gains in upper body and core strength have been beneficial. I even throw in a few leg workouts now and again.
5) About the same time I started taking supplemental protein. It may seem like snake oil, but I really think it helps in recovery after my longs runs. I have never felt as good as I have after a 20 and 22 miler as I did this time around.

Each of these things alone can't be entirely responsible for my recovery but all together I think they were just the right prescription at just the right time.

I mentioned that my right knee tightened up during the race around mile 20. Soon afterward, I'd forgotten that it ever hurt. Later that day my heels were sore and overnight my legs were a little sore but not terribly so. On Tuesday morning the only real pains I had was in my quads from the downhill running and now two days later they don't really hurt. I ran an easy mile on the treadmill Tuesday afternoon at the gym before my workout with Chris and tonight I walked between 4 and 5 miles in Bonelli.

I'm going to keep doing what I've been doing and I really hope I can stay on this positive trajectory with my running.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Heart of America Marathon

This was a great little marathon in the middle of America - Columbia, Missouri. It was my 17th marathon overall and my 14th state.

Back in May, Joe was penciling in his race schedule for the year, which has grown considerably from his first scribbles in May. He was thinking of running the Heart of America (HOA) on Labor Day. Since we'd been getting together for marathons the last 3 years I was game for another and Missouri would be a nice addition to the state collection. For my MO marathon, I had considered The Spirit of St. Louis, Lewis & Clark or the Berryman Trail Marathon. But a lot about HOA sounded intriguing. The size of the field, the challenge of the hills and the 50th running were high points

I flew into St. Louis on Saturday evening. Joe swung by, picked me up and off we went to Columbia. Columbia is a small town in the middle of MO dominated by the University of Missouri. The race expo was about 4 tables including packet pick up, a course map and elevation, the local running store selling some stuff, and close outs on previous years t-shirts. A highlight was Hal Higdon was there. He was signing any book and copies of his new novel "Marathon". It was an advance copy. They were individually numbered as he signed them. I got #73.

After that we drove the course on Joe's suggestion. I hadn't driven a course since I drove the Seafair marathon. At that particular race I was attempting to break 4 hours. Driving the Seafair course and seeing all the hills there freaked me out. In this case driving the course was a great idea. This course advertised the hills a lot, so it was good to see just how bad the hills really were. After seeing them I wasn't concerned, especially since I wasn't in 4:00 shape anyway.

We also took part in the Pasta Feed. It included a great presentation of past winners of the race. Each of them gave some perspective and thoughts on their experience. Probably the coolest was Joe Shroeder, the winner of the very first HOA in 1960. Hal Higdon gave a speech as well. He won the HOA in 1968, ran the 25th running and ran it again in 2001. The MC was Bill Cook, the founder of the Columbia Track Club and the race. The CTC obviously puts their heart and soul into this race and into the running community in Columbia. It's a great small town flavor that you don't get at many big city marathons. Of the 9 of us at our table, 5 of us were Marathon Manics, #440 (me), 1228 (Joe), 622 Bruce, 1472 (Bil), and 1473 (Cristy). That was pretty cool. We had no idea until we got to talking. The others were a race photographer, 2 spouses and a guy, Roy, who'd lost 70 lbs running (and could probably qualify as a Maniac). I think he has run 5 or 6 marathons this year.

Race morning came early. Joe was up at 4:00. I slept in to 5:00 with plenty of time to eat my ritual oatmeal and get dressed. The race start was about a quarter mile up the road from the hotel at the corner of Monk Drive and Stadium Blvd. Start time was 6:00. The race packet had included battery operated red flashing lights that clipped onto your hat or shorts. It kind of neat to see the red lights bobbing down the road ahead of us.

Joe and I had discussed race day strategy several times leading up to the race. Joe was planning a fairly conservative 2:1 run:walk ratio with plans on "finishing uprightl in anything under 5:00." Last year at St. Jude we ran over 25 miles of the race in lock step together. This year I felt like my training and recovery from injury was setting me up for a decent return to marathon and I was itching to see how well I could do, especially with the hills. I enjoy running hills. We settled on a plan where we'd run together for the first mile and then it was every man for himself. It was a race after all. After leaving Joe, I settled into my 5:1 schedule that had served me so well in the training, while Joe settled into his 2:1.

Based on my long runs I was hoping optimistically for a 4:20 finish. I wasn't sure what effect the hills were going to have on that. One huge bonus for the day was the weather. The temperature was in the mid 60's with fog to start and heavy cloud cover remaining throughout the race. HOA's reputation is hot, humid and hilly. The hills weren't going away, the humidity was there but in check and thankfully heat wasn't an issue this year.

With the hills I knew that keeping splits at every mile would be difficult to gauge progress. The HOA has a tradition of providing splits every 3 miles. Volunteers are stationed and read off the time as you pass and write down your number and corresponding time. This race is "old school" when it comes to timing. No chip time here.

Joe and I ran the first mile in 10:24 - a very nice warm up pace.

By Mile 3 I was at 29:40, nicely under my target of 10:00 per mile.

At Mile 6 my watch read 59:05, nearly a minute ahead of schedule but far to early to get excited yet.

The next split at Mile 9 had me at 1:28:45 - still pretty much on target.

Mile 12 split was 1:58:17, getting close to 2 minutes ahead.

Between Mile 12 and 15, two things happened. The first was a bio break. The second was Easley Hill. Easley Hill had looked treacherous in the car, but running it was much better than anticipated. My run:walk schedule had me running the entire thing.

Mile 15 split was 2:33:53, now nearly 4 minutes behind pace with most of that lost in the bathroom at the bottom of Easley Hill.

By Mile 18 I had closed the gap slightly at 3:02:48. Soon after this I began catching up to the folks I had been running with at the bottom of Easley Hill. One by one I overtook then and kept passing people right up to the end of the race. Around Mile 20, my right knee began to lock up. My ITBS was coming to haunt me, but it didn't stop me.

By Mile 21, and with the majority of the big hills behind me, I was at 3:31:27, inching closer to my goal time. Some how I completely missed the Mile 24 split.

I crossed the finish line in 4:23:05. Overall pace was 10:02. Nearly perfectly meeting my expectations. I was quite content with that. I jumped into the ice bath provided at the finish line and soaked for a few minutes and then took a spot on the curb to wait for Joe. Joe ended up coming in right on schedule and still upright. It was a great race for both of us.

While I was running I kept seeing Joe Shroeder (the first HOA winner) and his wife in a Suburban. I'd run up to them and they'd move ahead. At the finish line I finally figured out what was going on. Four finishers behind me was Kevin Shroeder, Joe's son. We had run the whole race within a few yards of each other. He had a cool shirt that said, "My Dad won the first Heart of America Marathon" and his kids had "My Granddad won the first Heart of America Marathon" t-shirts too.

We'd met a young guy, maybe in his 20's, at the start. This was his first marathon. He had a pretty big contingent of family and friends out routing him on. I came upon him around Mile 22 and let him know he was looking good and was going to finish. I got to see him finish a little bit after me. It was obviously an emotional experience for him. It was neat to witness and we got to chat for a few minutes afterward.

The majority of the route is on rural two lane roads. The roads aren't closed to traffic, but the few drivers that were out were mostly courteous. Running with such a small crowd you end up striking up conversations with many different folks as you tick off the miles. The crowd was pretty different from most races. It was mainly locals and a lot of hard core marathoners, like 50-Staters and Maniacs. I met several other Maniacs at the race start and along the route including, Brent #1555 and Tom #38. I leap frogged with Barefoot Rick Roeber a couple of times. There were no costumed runners, no pretty boys and no "Teams" (not that Teams are bad). It was just a bunch of folks that love to run. There were no bands, no screaming spectators. There weren't a lot of frills but it was a solid race, done well by the CTC. They'd had 50 tries to get it right and I think they've done it. The race would lose some of its appeal if it grew too large. This year with the 50th festivities the race saw the biggest number of finishers ever at 277. We'll see what next year brings.

The Heart of America Marathon is aptly named for more than one reason.

Friday, September 04, 2009


The last run is in the books. I got up again this morning to do my final run before the marathon as plotted out by Bart Yasso. I ran 13 miles this week which I believe is the most I've ever run in the week of a marathon. I feel confident about running that mileage for a couple of reason. One, because so far everything else has gone smoothly following the Yasso plan. Hills, mile repeats, marathon pace runs and long runs pretty much went off just like he wrote them in the plan. Secondly, the Heart of America Marathon is on Monday, technically putting it into next week and giving me an extra day of rest between the last run and the race.

Joe assures me that there is little chance of lightning in the morning in the Midwest. In the mean time the forecast has taken a turn for the better, now calling for 30% chance of "few showers". Sounds good to me. I've packed by baseball cap just in case.

Digging around the Internet for photos of Easley Hill, the big one all the race write ups mention, I came upon the photo at the top of this post. It is the Old Easley Cemetery. I'm planning on running right past that particular attraction.

I'm off to St. Louis in the morning. I hope to be back with a race report on Tuesday. Until then, enjoy you're long weekend and the unofficial end of summer.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


Good Runner - Bad Runner

I used some common sense this morning to get my 5 mile, easy pace, run completed. I needed to do the run this morning because we are planning on going to a concert in the park tonight. Under normal circumstances I would have postponed it a night or push it up a night, but this being taper week I wanted to stick pretty doggedly to the run every other day schedule set out for me.

Also under normal conditions I would have done this run outside, but I read an article about the air quality, or lack thereof, due to the fires that stated that the air quality is worse in the morning as the wind tends to die down and the bad air sinks toward ground level. It tends to get pushed back up the mountains as the day progress. So being the good runner, I went to the gym at 5:00 a.m. and put in 5 miles at 10:00 pace on the treadmill. I was a bad runner in that I ignored the 20 minute limit. I ran for 50 minutes but kept my eyes open to be sure that there was always at least one empty 'mill so I wasn't keeping anyone from getting their cardio done.

One more short, very easy, 3 miles before race day. Currently the weather forecast for Monday has me a bit worried. Just how scattered is scattered, exactly. Scattered rain and thunder is one thing, scattered lightening is something else.

A cool stat that I just figured out was that August was my highest mileage month, EVER. I ran 202 miles. I've come close on two other occasions in 6 years of running but have never broken the 200 barrier. I wasn't even intentionally trying to, it just sort of happened. I didn't realize it until I tallied the miles last night.