Monday, April 30, 2012

You Don't Know Jack

Noticed one of my favorite wildflowers today... Jack In the Pulpit.  They've been emerging for a few days and have become more noticeable.

But not to be out-done, there are now Mayapple blossoms and another favorite (state flower of Colorado) Columbine.

Mayapple blossom


Then to cap it all off, I ran across more morel mushrooms in one outing than I've found in a long time.  Good for a side dish at tonight's meal and likely some left for tomorrow.

I was quite sore waking up this morning so started with brisk hiking then after a couple miles things loosened up and was moving without any complaining from my knees.  Since this was designed to be a recovery day, I took the time to look for mushrooms around half way, then hurried home with the bounty!

10 miles today and another hiking session for tonight.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Getting Serious

I've been anxious to get in some longer runs as I build to the 50 miler on June 23.  I planned ahead today and carried some food in a drop bag that I could access every 5 miles.  So after the initial 2.5 miles to get to my loop, I took off hoping to make myself dizzy by repeating 4 or 5 loops.

I drained the handheld water bottle during each 5 and could also refill it near my drop.  I used my homemade gel during laps two and four and peanut butter/jelly sandwiches and salted potatoes at the start of laps 3 and 4 and also on the way home after 22.5.   The stretch between 15 and 20 was when I felt the strongest and ran very well there but during the 4th lap I felt more like walking and chose to finish feeling more upbeat rather than slog through another lap merely to reach 30 miles.  I will likely get out for a recovery walk this evening for a total mileage day that exceeds some of my weeks last year!  Still time to build the long run and feel ready for the third week in June.

25 miles running this AM. and 3 in the evening so the total for the week is 93 miles.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Today's run was postponed til after lunch because I attended a celebration of life for Mason City boy's cross-country coach, Dave Wilson.  Dave had died earlier this week after bravely fighting cancer in recent years.  We had had some great XC camps in the past and it had always been a privilege to be asked to volunteer at the camps and work beside Dave with the boys. 

Surprised by a Cooper's Hawk while in the woods this afternoon.  The trails were muddy and trees still dripping from rain.  The hawk just swooped down and landed in the tree above my shoulder close I was counting feathers!

(borrowed photo)
I took it easy again while out today and also looked for more mushrooms...found my largest one yet this year but not many out due to cold , wet conditions.
almost the size of a fist
11 miles for the day

Friday, April 27, 2012

Drake Relays

Back late last night, then up early this morning to drive my wife to Des Moines for a Junk Jubilee at the fairgrounds.  While there, she met a friend from Mason City that happened to have an extra ticket available for the relays off I went...another day at a track meet.  That makes for four different track venues within a week!  

Also came across an article that may help explain or at least give me another excuse to head out to the woods! 

3 mile hike in evening after arriving back home.  Slight bit of recovery today and tomorrow to prepare for a long run on Sunday.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

2nd Day NJCAA Region XI T&F

Today was the bulk of the meet with most of our athletes getting a last chance to perform for the year...or to gain qualifying for outdoor nationals.  As the dust settled, NIACC now has at least 20 individuals headed for Texas in a couple weeks.  Some winning performances and some season and personal bests today.

Because of the meet, Curtis and I got out for an early morning run and used a nearby bike path to get to the flood wall of the Missouri River and then ran along the gravel path there.  For me it was a bit of a tempo run compared to most of my workouts and I was very pleased to hold the pace for 7 miles without needing a walk break. I did a brief hike later for a couple more miles. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

1st Day Region XI Outdoor T&F

Bus leaves before lunch to head to Council Bluffs for regionals so I got out early this morning to get some miles.  At one point, I felt I was being watched.

The morning lent itself to peaceful, easy running and I hit the back trails while listening to podcasts.  I also took a few moments to scout for morel mushrooms and lucked out with more than yesterday in about a quarter of the time!

I wish I had thought to take a photo of the prairie yesterday while the county crew was performing a controlled burn in order to promote the proper growth of native prairie grasses.  I took a couple shots of that prairie today.

10 miles.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Eye of the Tiger...Competition

Absolutely perfect running day today.  At one point, I had a Tiger Swallowtail flit by and land on nearby bush.  

As I ran this morning, I was acutely aware of competition in the woods...others looking for the elusive morel mushrooms.

Although I, like most mushroom hunters, get protective of "their" hunting grounds, I tolerated with full knowledge that I could cover more ground and get out to my secret places before they could!

There was a change in the dates of the Junior College Regional meet so they can compete without worry of weather that threatens to cancel.  So instead of this Friday and Saturday, it'll be tomorrow and Thursday.  So because I'll either ride along on the charter or maybe drive the NIACC bus if needed, this is important to  how I plan my own workouts this week.  Instead of the very long run tomorrow, I'll likely switch back to this weekend.  So that meant I wanted a bit more mileage out of today's run.  The extra was accomplished but I did, successfully, take some time in the middle to finally find a hat-full of morels that will become part of our evening meal tonight.

15 miles and recovery hiking later.

Monday, April 23, 2012

What a Difference

Two days ago I was watching track and field in the very immense Kansas Jayhawk Stadium and tonight was watching track and field at a small Iowa high Gilbert.  Coach Vais and I attended to observe our newest recruit for next year, a former 3200 meter state champion from Gilbert.  A beautiful night for track but again, somewhat windy.  Our guy ran a 9:45 3200 and followed it with a 4:33 1600...with more races yet to run tonight after we left to return home.

Still taking it easy today but ran fairly steady for 10 miles...some additional hiking for recovery circulation in the PM.  The river seems to be making a bit of a recovery in depth, as well.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

We're Not In Kansas Anymore!

Finally home again.  Pulled the bus into NIACC around 11 PM.  

I was a bit stiff and sore this morning due to the higher quality of running I had been able to put in in Kansas.  Also sitting in the sun and wind, then driving the bus back for 6 hours didn't help me feel any fresher.  I got out on the trails and enjoyed some easy jogging...with a few quick stops to look for morel mushrooms...I've heard that a few early ones have popped out.

6 miles this AM with some more recovery hiking later.  Ended up with a total of 81.5 miles for the week

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Final Day Kansas Relays

Today's the big day with more finals and invitational events.  I was able to visit briefly with former world record holder in the mile, Jim Ryan, yesterday and get his autograph.  In the early 80's, Jim had been in Mason City and raced at one of our local races.  I had the pleasure at that time to have a photo taken with him for the Globe-Gazette's coverage of his appearance.

The plan is to run early this morning...another outing with Curtis and Anna, however, I'm really feeling the fascia in my right foot complaining so will probably opt out.  I have stopped wearing my orthotics, partially due to all I've been listening to about the advantage of "minimalist running" and this old body is saying.."Wait a minute, I still need that support I've been used to for the past 10 years!"

PM -- OK, so I didn't follow my own recommendation to opt out of the run.  Instead we took advantage of the chance for more hill running and took off across towards the KU West Campus.  Really another good run and the only grief for me was my left knee on the downhills.

RJ Harris and McKenna Wragge meeting some members of Team Nike
The relays organizers were awarded a Guinness world record for largest serving of nachos,  an 80-foot long portion that was prepared then immediately given away (for a donation to a feed the homeless charity).  We were able to be a part of the record by accepting some nachos...most of the servings ended up in trash barrels around the stadium as the serving size was too large for most people's tastes!

6 miles and another 2 miles hiking later. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

2nd Day Kansas Relays

Great day, other than the wind, the weather was fantastic for a day at the track.  Some great performances by our athletes, however, not all achieved their best times at this meet.

I was able to begin the day with a very good run with Curtis Vais and one of our women runners , Anna Buenneke.  Anna was disappointed with her 10K run last night but was able to humor two old coaches by staying at their pace today.  We explored some trails along the river and even had some sort of obstacle course at times because the trail reduced to basically a deer path through the river bottom.  We changed direction in order to find better running and hooked up with a bike trail on the opposite side of the river.  This led us to a mountain bike course and it was a real hoot to run the ups and downs and curves of this trail.   I was happy to not have to ask for any walking breaks and we put in an hour and 5 minutes of running!  I'll be able to add some photos when I get back to my home computer.

Tomorrow will be the final day for the relays and then we have the 6 hour drive home.

7.5 miles running and an additional 2 miles hiking later in the day.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

1st Day Kansas Relays

Beautiful start to this day with a run with Coach Vais...but there was a little too much pavement for my tastes.  Especially since my legs haven't fully recovered from Tuesday's long run.  We, eventually, did discover a trail that runs along the river so we'll be able to explore that in the next couple morning runs.  

The bonus of today's location was a chance to work many more hills than available at Lime Creek.  There were some good ones including the middle of campus and up to the campanile that overlooks the stadium!  Even broke up the rhythm with some stairs for a drop-down to the street beside the stadium.  I didn't feel much argument from my left knee today as much as from the right knee...on the downhills.

Following the run, we hiked a couple extra mile to get the registration packet and athlete numbers.  It is much warmer this morning than what I've typically been faced with, but that is probably good as I feel it will be good to be acclimated to more heat for the Black Hills event in June.  Regarding Black Hills 50, I took the jump and actually entered before this trip.  So I'm more committed than I was last week!

5 miles with 5 miles additional hiking.  Also did a very quick amend to an earlier post that I promised to get back to.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

We're Not In Iowa Anymore

Headed to Kansas today for their Relays.  I'll be driving the team bus so needed good rest overnight and took an easy day on the trails.  It was quite wet and muddy from early morning rains.

10 miles

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Ok, so I cut this post short the other day and had intended to get back to it.  Even though I'm taking time to post my new workouts each day, I still haven't developed what I was intending when I titled this post.  Since we're busy in Kansas today (Thursday), I won't take time to repost what I wanted to in full.  Short story about connections dealt with 3 levels...connection to the internet (computer problems), connection to friends and family, and connections to the environment in which we live and train.

The computer problems always leaves me in a funk...I'm convinced that my atrial fibrillation in 2007 was the result of hard drive issues at work and not from the Pikes Peak Marathon!

20 miles running and 3 hiking in PM

Monday, April 16, 2012

I'm King of the World

Sorry for the title of today's blog...but this weekend was an anniversary of the sinking of the Titantic...the saying is a classic from the movie...and I was reminded of it by sighting a Belted Kingfisher during today's run. Quite a strange series of associations, I know, but that's what it's like out there alone sometimes!

 Not another sole on the trail today as it was cloudy, windy, and cold.  It still felt good to get out even though I was later due to watching the live webcast of the Boston Marathon.  The recent winds have really raised some havoc with the trail conditions and makes me wonder what would ever happen if I happened along the trail at precisely the wrong moment?

10 miles running at noon and 2 miles hiking later in the day.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


I'm convinced that my ability to actually run more again is somewhat related to the time afforded me by early retirement...from  a 40-hr work week that is...I still work as a consultant and also as assistant coach at NIACC.

The time on the trails now reminds me of "play" in that I run for a while then investigate something along the trail, or hike, then run again.  Not that different from what children do when they play.  The base of miles and regularity of my routine now allows me to expand the experience to improving the pace again!

I've alluded to this play aspect in a few past blog entries but it has been driven home recently by what I've heard on some of the podcasts that I listen to.  Today really felt like play.  I rose this morning intending to put in over 20 miles but it had stormed all night and as I thought about my mileage total already this week, decided to keep it to between 10 and 15 for today.  Next week will be affected by driving to the Kansas Relays for NIACC track and field so my intent is, now, to run longer on Monday or Tuesday.  This will also allow for me to get the final word from my cardiologist before plowing ahead with the 50 mile race training.

10 miles in the AM and some hiking miles later in the day.  That gives me 79 miles for the week.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Calm Before The Storm

Today's weather was a bit unpredictable yet it was quite pleasant when I got out for an easy run.  The forecast is for some more storms to roll in this evening.  But clearing skys and sunshine greeted me for most of the time I was out.  

Also today's title is referring to a calm run day in anticipation of a long run tomorrow (weather permitting).  Results from the doctors visits earlier this week help to fire me up for the increase in mileage and length of long runs each week.

I've had occasion to mention my son's puppy in recent posts but haven't taken the chance to post a photo. So here she is...Piper...see a little resemblance to Diablo?
Helping me by picking up a recyclable bottle.

Asleep at the wheel (of the Jeep)

Ever wonder why photos of people are plagued with red-eye yet dogs seem to have green-eye?

6 miles jogging and 2 additional hiking for 8 miles today.

Friday, April 13, 2012


As most of us that exercise in order to improve health or to compete know, the training is a combination or balance of applying a stress and the body's adaptation to that stress through recovery.  My training of late has been geared towards preparing me for a 50 mile race in South Dakota in June.  As I've begun to make enough progress to consider entering (I'm lucky that this event is not one that limits entries yet nor fills to capacity in a short time), my coach (wife) wanted to be sure I had an informational discussion with the cardiologist that worked with me when I was hospitalized with atrial fibrillation in 2007 a few days after the Pikes Peak Marathon.

The visit went well and the doc didn't see a reason that I couldn't continue to train and run at the Black Hills.  But he still thought it prudent for me to run a treadmill stress test to see how the ticker is currently working under more of a load.  So that's how I began my workout today...a trip to the hospital for the "mill".

Things went well and I was impressed with the quality and ability of the GE Treadmill used for the test.  It can run up to a 25% slope! My knees found it easier to perform at slope rather than flat (or as I've learned in the field, they really complain on downhills).  I went through 6 levels before reaching the calculated max heart rate based on my age of 168...that meant I was going 5.5 MPH at a 20%slope before we pulled the plug at 15 minutes.  I could have continued but the technicians said they had all the info they needed and if I continued it would only be for my personal challenge.  Nothing glaring showed up and they said I did excellent but I still need to wait for the final analysis by the cardiologist.

I followed up with a 10 mile run at Lime Creek and additional hiking mid-afternoon for another 14 mile total.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Dealing With What You Have

Yesterday's post by my friend, George Zack, and often an answer in the podcasts with Lucho at Endurance Planet, got me to thinking about what I'm actually doing with my workouts...are they training or just an outing to the woods?  Yes, I would prefer to run like I did in the past, but I simply can't. However, this year I truly believe that I can consider myself a runner, once again.  It took a lot of dealing with my knee arthritis and meniscus issues and a lot of hiking but can now sustain some real miles, albeit slower than what I remember.

I find myself reminiscing way too often and am also jealous when I see a younger runner go by with such ease in his gait. But I have also come to enjoy my extra time in the out-of-doors and actually get into the "flow" as discussed by Andy Jones-Wilkins in his column at  So as Lucho would put it, I do what I can and don't worry about what I no longer have any control over.

 I also thought a lot about the message presented by Aron Rolston at the NIACC auditorium last night. Dealing with boulders in your life and opportunities to change perspective on what is most important to you.  It was a very good, inspirational, and motivating talk and I was glad I had the opportunity to be there and that NIACC is able to arrange for such high quality events in their annual series.

Today went very well as I used a run to the high school, to deliver a student ID that I had found yesterday, as a warmup then hit the trails for my finishing loop at a pretty good clip.  As mentioned yesterday, it is very dry out and the river is unusually low for this time of year. 

10 mile run in AM and additional hiking later.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cooler Weather...We Need Rain

Very good day to be out on the trails.  Sunny, calm, and very dry in the woods.  I was simply trying to get back into the groove that I'd settled into before the Chicago trip so didn't push the distance, just increased the amount of running.  It went well.  Lilacs and crab apple trees are blossoming.

10 miles of running followed by hiking in the afternoon and again this evening for a 14 mile day.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Running to the Top --- of Iowa

Took the opportunity to get to Pilot Knob today with fellow McDuffer, Dave Nauman.  Dave is winding down his training for a 50K in a couple weeks. The terrain that Pilot Knob affords is unlike anything that we have available around Mason City.

I'll use some photos to show a bit of the day.

Three Bridges Trail with Dave in blue just disappearing from view (if you look closely).

They have burls here. as well.

The view from the top of the knob tower.

And out along the prairie 

I had intended to run at least 10 miles up here but enjoyed being in the new location and the weather so much that I ended up with more hiking than running and cut it off between 8 and 9 miles in order to meet Dave on time.

Also got in a walk with Cathy and the puppy on Lime Creek this afternoon.