Monday, April 22, 2024

Random Thoughts on Earth Day

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On this Earth Day 2024 (April 22), I am thinking of my sister Sandy who passed away 18 years ago. It's been a long time. Still miss her, but some memories are fading. Need to share stories with my brothers so we don't forget. Every April 22 I take the day off of work, run on the trails (Sandy loved nature), donate to local humane society (she loved animals), and think about her and the rest of the family. Today I was tired from running the Allerton Trail half-marathon on the weekend and only managed a slow 2.25 miles at Lake of the Woods. Better than nothing. I'd love to do something extra special for the 20th anniversary of her death in 2026. Something that would remind me of her. Maybe run the April Boston Marathon (close to where she was born). Maybe run the May Avenue of the Giants Marathon (where she went to college). Maybe both. Or the other marathon in Arcata, CA, Redwoods Marathon in October. Or maybe no race and just have a fantastic adventure run...like across the Grand Canyon...and back (R2R2R). Not sure what I'm planning. Just thinking...reaching...hoping. 

Last year on Earth Day I was running the Allerton Trail half-marathon. Finished in 1:58. This year I finished in 1:57. A year older and one minute faster. Guess that is good. Sad thing is I did not finish in top 3 for my age group (50-59) for either race (4th place both years). Lot of fast 50 year-olds out there on the trails! Next year I need to get an age group award. I tend to do better in shorter races. After the Illinois HM (April 27), I have a 5K race on May 4. Guess I'll see if I have any speed left in these old legs.  

As I sit writing this blog post, I'm tired and sore. But I have another half-marathon on the roads this Saturday: Illinois Half Marathon. I'd like to run 1:47 because that will get me a qualifying time for the Last Chance BQ.2 race in Sept (or April). If I can qualify at either race, that will set me up for Boston 2026. My other potential qualifying race would probably be next year's Illinois Marathon. 

Happy Earth Day. Reduce, recycle, reuse. Think about the future. And think about family and friends.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Quiet February, Busy March, Races in April!

The end of December through January was a busy time for me and running. I had the Clinton Lake Winter Solstice Run (30 miler, but I DNF'd at 20 miles) plus the January Riddle Run 28-miler (I DNF'd at 20 miles). At least I am consistent in my DNFs. No injuries, no illness, just terrible winter weather and two poor races. February was a rest month. No specific training, no racing, just getting out the door, running, and throwing in a few strides. Now that March is almost here (thanks Leap Day!), I have plans for real training as I prepare for 3 races in April. Here are those races and my plans:

April 20: Allerton Trail Half-Marathon. Did this last race year and the second part of the course surprised me! It had newer sections that were not worn down--very uneven and rough trail. Those wore me down and I did not have the discipline to run within myself. This year I'll be ready. Or at least "more ready" than last year. Plan on several 10-13 mile trail runs. Plus weekly speed work (cycling through hill repeats, track intervals, and tempo runs). If we get the traditional rains in March and April, the course will probably be muddy and wet--but I'll be stronger than last year. And faster. And more patient. Ran 1:58 last year, maybe 1:55 this year?

April 27: Illinois Half-Marathon. Was not planning on this race, but what the hell! I could use a good test of my stamina. Hopefully the trail HM will not beat me up too much the week before and I'll be ready for a fast road effort. I know this course well and it's a local race. Very low stress. The only pressure is ME wanting to race FAST. That's on me. Since it is a fairly flat road course, I'm hoping for a 1:45-1:50 finish. Whatever I run at the Allerton trail HM, I think I can knock 10 minutes off here. Weather will be a big factor. It could be hot and humid, or cool and dry. Hopefully not windy. 

May 4: Kirby Derby 5K. Why not have three races on three consecutive weekends? If the two half marathons don't kill me, maybe the 5K will. Only doing this race since it is part of the local "Triple Crown" (Allerton trail race in April, Kirby Derby in May, Allerton trail race in October). Who can pass up an extra prize for doing all three? After the road HM and this 5K, I should know where my speed and endurance are at--and how my training went in March and April. Plenty of time to adjust training plans and get ready for summer races (for now, Last Man Standing in July and Mahomet 5K in August). Think I can run a 22:00 5K on roads. Unless the two half-marathons wore me down, injured me, or made me not care. We shall see.

Enjoy Leap Day! 

Monday, January 29, 2024

25th Annual Riddle Run 28-Miler

2024 winners with RD
This past Saturday was the 25th annual Riddle Run, which is a 28-mile trail "fun run" that started back in 2000. I have become the "caretaker" of the event since Jeff Riddle, fun run founder, gave up that task. The weather was pretty good (35F to start with heavy fog, but no rain, snow, or ice). The trail was extremely muddy and wet due to melted snow and recent rains. My race plan was to stay slow and steady for the full seven 4-mile loops to reach 28 miles in about 6 hours. Last year I went out way too fast/hard with Eric Smith on the first loop and that damned me for the rest of the run. Finished the 28 miles, but the last 8 were terrible. This year I went out a little too fast with Pat Mills, but wised up and walked the first long hill (Pat kept going and I remained mostly solo for the day). I did get one good loop in with John Reed, but then went solo again. Unfortunately, the muddy trail wore me down and I stopped at 20 miles (5 loops). Up to this day, I only had 34 total miles in January. I was sick at the start of the new year (7 days of zero running) and slowly got back into running before this event. Many 2-3 mile runs don't help you finish an ultramarathon! Oh well. I finished 20 miles and stayed healthy and injury-free. It was nice hanging out around the fire pit with other buffalo runners as we waited for everyone to finish. I'm now ready to start training for the Allerton half-marathon on April 20. Hopefully less muddy.

Foggy start
Since this was the 25th anniversary, I figured there should be some extra prizes and surprises. I bought "DNF" and "Ultra" bumper stickers for everyone. Plus "Death before DNF" coffee mugs for the two champions. Then, to surprise everyone, I proclaimed that 6 runners had achieved "Legendary" status by awarding them pint glasses with "Legendary: Riddle Run 2024" on them. Those runners were: Tom Rice and Chris Migotsky (25-time participants), John North (broke nose, went to hospital, then returned), Curt Chambers (he is Legendary), Sarka Petrickova (5-time champion), and Jeff Riddle (Riddle Run founder). Jeff was not in attendance, so he didn't get any extra prize, but the darn race is named in his honor, so there's that! Sarka also received a permanent stuffed buffalo to keep--it has her race year wins written in permanent marker. Should have been a stuffed GOAT since she is clearly the greatest of all time at Riddle Run. Maybe next year.

Out of about 40 starters, we only had 4 finishers of the full 28 miles: Sarka Petrickova, Paul O'Neil, Mark Kirkland, and Gregg Rose. Sarka was not only the female champion, but she was the overall winner besting all the men. Congratulations to her! These four finishers are now in contention for the Free Ultra Quadfecta ("Grand Slam"): Riddle Run, Backyard Ultra, Allerton Ultra, Winter Solstice. All others can still try to complete 3 of the 4 events to be a Trifecta finisher. That's my goal. Not sure what the awards are for Quadfecta vs Trifecta, but I'd be proud to finish three of these ultras. Remember, these are free events. Just show up, run, and enjoy. 

Here are the 2024 Riddle Run results

Here are the past 25 years of Riddle Run winners

Thanks to everyone that came out and shared food and drink. I hope to be back next year to see what happens at the 26th annual run. Not sure I can keep organizing this event, I may simply be a runner next year. I do plan on keeping my Riddle Run streak alive. Twenty-six in a row sounds nice. And I want to finish the full 28 miles next year. No "DNF" for me. I want that "Ultra" sticker. 

Sunday, January 7, 2024

My 2024 Running Goals

I've been sick all of 2024 (7 days). Not feeling optimistic about this year and my running. Guess having a sore throat, hacking cough, and fever will make you a little pessimistic about the future. On the positive side, it's been a good break from running and my body should be recovered and ready for future training. Assuming I have any lung capacity left! Damn illness. 

Here were my goals for 2023. And here is my reflection on those goals at the end of 2023. 

So, what should I do this year? Will 2024 be better than 2023? Looking back on previous running goals, I always had a mixture of process goals (run at least 4 times/week, don't miss more than 2 days in a row, do speed work once week, etc.) and outcomes goals (run a 6:00 mile, win the Riddle Run 28 miler, set a 5K personal best, etc.). This year is all about outcomes! Who cares how I get there? Let's set goals and do whatever it takes to get there. So here goes:

1. Finish top 10 in the Mahomet 5K road race. I'm normally top 20, but not top 10. Once I made it into 9th place. I want that again! This is not a fast course due to hills and hot weather, but placing doesn't depend on fast times, just faster than your competition. I'm not great in the heat, but this is my "home" course and I'll rise to the challenge. 

2. Run a 6:21 mile (McMillan equivalent to 3:35 marathon). I think I can beat this time on the roads, KRT, and track. Maybe I'll try for the trifecta! I used to want to beat 6:00, but that's getting REALY hard as I age. This is a good time goal. Not easy, but achievable. Think it might be my easiest goal. 

3. Run 1:42:10 in the half-marathon on the KRT (McMillan equivalent to 3:35 marathon). I'll practice on the KRT and "race" on the KRT. I pick the date to best give me a fighting chance (temperature, wind, sun, etc.). And if it doesn't work the first time, I'll try again. And again. 

4. Run 22:04 in a 5K or 45:50 in 10K (McMillan says they are equal). The Mahomet 5K won't be my fastest, but it'll encourage me to train, then run hard on the KRT (or roads) when the weather is cooler. I'd love to beat both 5K and 10K goals, but happy with just one. 

5. Run 40:00 on the 5-mile Lake of the Woods trail course. My best time last year was 42:28. Never really tried to run fast. Think it's been 4-5 years since I hit 40 minutes. Time to turn back the clock. If I'm running a fast mile, 5k, and half-marathon, then I should be able to do a fast 5 miler on the trails. I feel this is the hardest of my goals. 

The race times are based on a 3:35 marathon which would be a Boston qualifying time for my age. Doubt I can run that marathon time, but think I can hit the shorter race equivalents! For 2024 there are no ultramarathon goals, but I will finish one...or two...or three. Not the full Free Ultra QUADfecta, but maybe the TRIfecta.