Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Logan Creek Adventure Run: Trick or Treat?

Halloween in the Flathead Valley in northwest Montana can be a scary time. Dress your daughter as a princess, and chances are pretty good that the costume will end up hidden under a large winter coat and hat. Dress your son in a warm gorilla costume and chances are just as good you will need to treat him for heat stroke. You just never know.

October 31, 2012 dawned in a fickle mood. It could have gone either way, cold and wet or partly cloudy and warm-ish. It was with this uncertainty that I decide to hit one of my B-list adventure runs (my A-list runs are in the alpine zone of the surrounding mountains, and currently have a slushy snow pack). The Logan Creek loop, according to the Flathead National Forest Mountain Bike map, is 9 miles of forest service roads and single track trail. The climbing looked to be about 1800 feet. I figured it would take about 3 hours. I would find out that this map was the first trick.

I emailed my wife my itinerary and headed out the door with my running pack and supplies. It wasn’t until I was about 3 miles from the trailhead that I noticed there was still snow in the area. I had hoped that it had melted off at the 3000 to 5500 foot levels I would be running in. I parked my car at Tally Lake (the deepest natural lake in Montana) and I headed out unsure if I was going to complete my loop. Perhaps this would be an out and back. The run begins on a Forest Service dirt road (#913) along the lovely Logan Creek. There was about 4 inches of snow on the road, but hunters in trucks had cleared two rutted tracks. The climbing was constant but easy.

Turning left on to the only section of pavement brought me to more climbing along Star Meadow. This is the only place I saw a cars. It is the heart of the hunting season and I expected to run into more traffic. I took a left on to Forest Service Rd #313 and then another quick left on to #2912. I was pleased to see someone had driven up this remote road in the recent past. The snow was getting a little deeper, and it was nice to run on dirt ruts cleared by the trucks. The road forked and I went right on to #2912b.

Here is where things started going a little sideways. As I climbed the dirt road the snow started to decrease as I went up in altitude. This is counterintuitive, but helpful. I had to leap multiple puddles and little streams in the ruts. The map said the trail began where the road ended. The road steepened a little, but I made good time. I got to the end of the road, but no trail. I was now 8 ½ miles from my car on a planned 9 mile run.

I circled the area for about 20 min looking for any sign of a trail. Fortunately, it was still early (about 2:00) and mostly downhill to the car. I always try and leave a little extra in the tank on these adventure runs, so running back to the car wouldn’t be pleasant, but it wouldn’t be desperate. My GPS showed the car only 2-3 miles away, but that was straight line distance. I knew that was 2 to 3 miles of up and down, over downed trees and a few swamps and cliffs. Nope, there was nothing to do but turn back.

Going downhill I made good time skipping over puddles and such. A mile and half into my return… there it was! How did I miss it? It was right on the turn with a standard, reflective forest service sign. I was expecting the trail at the end of the road, not midway up the hill, and I was looking at my footing not the side of the road. All told, I ran an extra 3 miles.

I ran up the trail and came to road. “Oh, I wonder where…” Crap, the same road I had just ran down. The trail continued again in caddy-corner direction across the road with another… yep, large reflective sign. That will teach me. Three tricks this Halloween. I hope the single track is a treat.

And, it was. The single track was beautiful with yellow larch trees and medieval fog, but little snow. The climbing got steeper, much steeper. I kept my eyes peeled for the junction with trail #800. It should be easy to see, but with my luck I didn’t want to miss it. There were many trees down across the trail after the last storm. I kept climbing until I came to the “summit” and the trail junction. I had another 2 ½ miles to my car - all of it downhill. I had ran 12 ½ miles and climbed 2800 feet. The trail was fantastic and I worked on keep my fatigued form in check. There where some wonderful views of Tally Lake and the Salish Range.

All and all this was a fantastic adventure. I got out into the mountains in the fall and did a nice run. I accomplished my goals of 1) having fun, 2) burn fat, 3) don’t get hurt. The lesson learned is to pull my head out of my arse. I was never lost, just misdirected, but it could have been a bad deal if it had been later, or I hadn’t left any fuel in the reserve tank. But, I guess if everything went perfectly it wouldn’t have been an adventure. I need some tricks and treats on my Halloween run.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Don't Avoid Mud Runs and Relays

In response to Greg's post (Avoidance-of-Mud-Runs-and-Relays), I provide the following response:

You make some good points but there are some other considerations I'd like to propose.

On one side are the folks more interested in having a good time while doing some running (without a specific objective or goal) for whom a well organized mud run might be a great option. That can take some of the 'pain' out of constant training. To your point about injuries, someone I know was very recently injured in a mud run and looks like surgery is now being planned... that is a real risk of obstacle courses!

The team building aspects (or opportunities) of preparing for and completing a 200 mile relay race, with 6 or 12 people running (one at a time), is pretty special. It takes a certain amount of preparation and committment for that to come together in a way that many in EMS are not well tuned for, that is setting and achieving long term goals.

The bonding opportunities are many and not everyone needs to keep the same pace or have the same level of preparation for it to work. This is obviously going to be more attractive to those willing to put a bit more into it than a 5K project.

There aren't many team/group opportunities for runners unless you join a running group or otherwise make friends... and not many chances to do 'fun stuff' especially if you have a spouse and/or kids that can't keep your training schedule.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Avoidance of Mud Runs and Relays

I have avoided invitations to run in mud runs, hero dashes, and relays for many reasons. First and foremost I plan my annual race calendar around a couple of "A" races. Other races need to be part of the training plan. 

Other reasons I have avoided relays and mud runs. 

1. Fear of injury. I have heard several stories of extremity fractures in mud runs. A fracture could undo a year of training. 

2. Matching goals and passion. I am not sure if I could find a good team match. I am pretty focused on time and not sure I would fit well with a relay team that wanted to interrupt beer drinking to go for 4 to 6 mile runs. On a related note I don't want to push my race goals and performance expectations on others. 

3. Expense. My budget can only handle about one destination marathon per year. I am not sure I have the room for a relay. For non"A" races my needs are pretty simple - good course, accurate timing, and good support. A t-shirt, fancy obstacles, live music, and a big party are not high on my list of race needs. 

4. Logistics. An ideal race is to easily drive and park at the start area. Warm-up for a few minutes, stroll to the start line, and run. Relays span multiple days and parking and travel details seem a bit more than I am ready to take on. 

How about you? Do the benefits of relays and mud runs outweigh my concerns?  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Running and injuries - It's the little things - Part 1

As a new runner, having started (moved up from walking to regularly running further than 100 yards) just three months ago, I wanted to set a reasonable and achievable first goal. Having no real idea what that goal should be or what anyone else would do, my starting goal was to be able to run a mile without falling over dead. 

It did not take long to get there and after only a couple weeks this was easily achieved and it was time to set a new goal. It became finishing a 5K (3.1 miles) 'race' by walking and running as much as possible. BAAM! that was done and then the goal became to run a complete 5K without walking - and so my 'running career' started!

These were great goals for a beginning runner, an athlete in training (I did not feel qualified to be called an athlete), with zero confidence in myself, I did not want to make these goals known publicly for fear that I would not be able to accomplish them. Then they came and went with very little fanfare although I felt great about each one.

My next goal was to complete a Half Marathon (13.1 miles), this time I wasn't as worried about dying during the attempt as much as whether I could stay upright long enough to finish in under 3 hours (the fastest runners usually cross the finish in just over 60 minutes). Could I actually stay moving for more than three hours???

To help train for this I started reading books and joined a local running club ( and then before I knew it I was running 5 miles on a Saturday and again 3 more days that week (20 miles!). 

BAAM! Suddenly my left knee and right foot started hurting, enough to make running very painful. A visit to the local sports specialist ( who treats professional athletes and Olympians in addition to being a five time IronMan finisher herself - quickly got the root of the problem causing the knee pain. A 3-4mm adjustment to the shoe insert cured that problem almost instantly and I felt great.

According to some research, if you run regularly you'll have a 37 - 56% chance of getting injured. Some estimate that up to 70% of injuries are likely to recur  It was time to think about the health risks and benefits, putting them all in perspective resulted in more running!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Photo from Fox Cities Marathon

I stumbled across this photo from Kim Thiel photography that was taken at the Fox Cities Marathon. Thanks Kim for allowing me to embed here and share with friends and family. See the full gallery.

kim thiel photography: Fox Cities Marathon 2012  FCMarathon-2012_345
A few feet from the finish line, totally exhausted (me in the white t-shirt and Road ID hat)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fall Training Plan for Running the Goofy

My next event is the Goofy at Walt Disney World in January 2013. The Goofy is running the WDW half marathon on Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday. After resting for 2 weeks after the Fox Cities Marathon I have started a new training schedule.

  • Monday - cycle or other easy activity
  • Tuesday - run easy or tempo run
  • Wednesday - off or easy and short run
  • Thursday - speed/interval run
  • Friday - cycle or other easy activity
  • Saturday - run
  • Sunday - run double Saturday's distance

My main goal is to get my body ready for two consecutive long runs culminating with a 10 mile Saturday and 20 mile Sunday run 3 or 4 weeks before the Goofy.

This past week I logged about 35 miles. 7 miles on Saturday and 14 miles on Sunday with the last two miles at half marathon pace.

Have your run the Goofy? What training tips or plans worked for you? 

Other Runner Rule #2: Fear Response

Other Runner Rule #2: I am not responsible for your fear response

If you are running with ear buds, ear phones, or another type of audio output device stuffed into your ears you cannot react with a fear response such as a shudder, gasp, hop step, arm jerk, head snap, or similar body movement when you are overtaken by another runner moving in the same direction.

Trust me I attempt the standard notifications - cough, throat clearing, loud step, and verbal announcement of "on your left". Consider leaving Lady Gaga, Daughtry, Katie Perry, Cold Play, or their ilk on a lower volume setting or even running without music.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Other Runner Rule #1: Wave, Smile, or Nod

This is the first of many "other runner rules" I have been composing in my head during many miles of running the streets, trails, and sidewalks of my hometown as well as the many communities I travel to.

Other Runner Rule #1: Mutual Greeting

Attention Other Runners: When a runner approaches you from the opposite direction and that runners offers a polite wave, nod, smile, or other form of greeting it is appropriate and possibly even expected that you will offer a return greeting of a polite wave, nod, smile, grunt, or other verbal response.

Happy Running.

Friday, October 19, 2012

New Everyday EMS Athlete Profiles

Two new Everyday EMS athlete profiles have been recently added at Everyday EMS Tips. 

Read about paramedics Josh Knapp and Nick Nudell

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Running Makes Me Hungry

I just finished an interval/speed work-out. Warm-up followed by 4 x 1/2 mile and 4 x 1/4 mile with 90 to 120 seconds of rest between each interval. This run was at the end of the workday in a light drizzle on a rapidly darkening evening. Running in general makes me hungry but running right before dinner makes me particularly hungry. Some of the things I enjoy the most after a hard running workout include:

1. Wheat thins - like the salt and bite size
2. Cheez-its - see above
3. Peanut butter spoon hits dipped in chocolate chips
4. Bananas, oranges, or apple slices
5. Chocolate milk

What does running make you hungry for?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fox Cities Marathon 2012 Mementos

Fine looking race bib and medal from the Fox Cities Marathon. I like having my name displayed and being cheered for by name by complete strangers. 

Available for download from the Fox Cities webpage.

Read my race recap for the 2012 Fox Cities Marathon

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Book Review: Running Ahead of the Sun

Marathon Runner and Blogger Greg Strosaker compiled his 2011 training blogs post and daily mile updates into an ebook, Running Ahead of the Sun. I found the book in the Kindle owners lending library.

Free Kindle download on November 5, 2012.

The training log is nicely divided by essays about training, types of runs, setting goals, race preparation, and race execution. I found several great training ideas and inspiration as a seasoned marathon runner and I think a new or aspiring marathon runner will learn lots of lessons from Greg's experience.

The author travels frequently for business, is married to a physician, and is the father of 3 boys. Somehow he finds time to run 50-75 miles per week, usually well before the sun rises. With considerable home and work responsibilities and being a sub 1:25 half marathon and sub 3:00 marathon the author writes with a humility and genuine voice that I appreciated.