Monday, June 30, 2008

Smile Train Sprint Triathon 6-29-08

( More photos added to album. See link at bottom of story)

A triathlon? Yes a lot of you might not know I used to compete in Tri's but I did for 6 years starting in 1999. Actually my first one was in the summer of 1998 but I'll tell you all about that later. Right now lets get back to this one.

I had lost interest in triathlons as I got more serious about seeing how I could do focusing on my ultrarunning so after a disastrous Kure Beach Tri in June of 2005, I had quit the sport. My bicycle had sat in the same spot in a corner collecting dust for three years now, still with the race number from that day attached. I had still done a little swimming but a couple of months later I quit the Y because I just wasn't using the membership enough.
So how did I end up doing a Tri this past Sunday? Well my friends Jerry and Margo have both signed up for the Beach to Battleship Iron Distance Tri in Wilmington coming up this November, (the same day as MMTR so I can't go cheer for them ). Margo had been looking for races to do as part of her training and came across this one in Wake Forest and she copied the Werners and I on the e-mail she sent out wanting to know if we all might be interested. Frank and Karla had just done one low-key tri at SJAFB last year and had expressed an interest in doing some more. It wasn't even on my radar after 3 years but since it was only 10 miles away from home and wouldn't interfere with anything else I had on my schedule I decided to join in the fun. With just a 250yd pool swim and 12 mile bike, I knew I could fake my way through it and the 5k run would be barely a warm-up so I signed up.

I had planned to go ahead and join the Y and start some swimming and maybe ride the bike some but I kept putting it off. I wanted to get Umstead over first and then I needed more time to recover before I started. I was putting in a lot of hours at The Athlete's Foot so I didn't think I would have much time to train so I put it off longer. Then as June was approaching I decided to wait until after my vacation. So finally 2 weeks ago today I finally joined the Y and began swimming and working out as part of my injury rehab. Last Saturday I dusted off the bike and lubed it up , then headed out for a 10 mile ride. I went back out this past Saturday for another 8 to make sure everything was working OK and those two rides would be my bike training over the past 3 years.

Sunday morning I was up at 4:15 and after a little breakfast I made the short drive over to Wake Forest. Since it has been so long I was a little nervous and kept going over what I would need in transition and planning my race. I shouldn't have worried because once things got started it all seemed so natural, almost like I'd never left the sport.
So, anyway, I had plenty of time to get ready. Margo was there along with husband Bill who also was competing as well as their older daughter Stephanie. Younger daughter Gabriella was there too but she was not competing but would be cheering us on. Frank and Karla were there with brand new bikes they had just bought the day before. They had been doing all their riding on Mt Bikes but with Ragbrai coming up next month they were ready to get some road bikes. And of course Jerry was there excited as ever. Also saw Mike Walsh there with his wife Denise who would be starting her first tri ever.

The swim would be 10 laps in the pool at Heritage Swim Club so I warmed up just 100 yds before lining up for the start. We would all start in 10 second intervals making it a time-trail format. They had a glitch in the computer that seeded us because they had me seeded 23 out of 300+ and Margo was 21st. We both should have been mid-pack but we would just have to do the best we could and hope not too many would swim over us. I got off to a good start and was doing a good job staying relaxed. I actually was a little faster than I had hoped and that was even after being held up by a slower swimmer I couldn't get around.

I was a little slow in transition partly due to my number belt being messed up. I should have checked it before the race, but after fiddling with it a while I just put it on loose and hoped it would be ok. The bike course had a few short but fairly steep hills in the first mile as well as 5 or 6 speed bumps but then we would turn onto some country roads for some mostly easy peddling. Of course with no training any slight incline was a problem for me to pedal well but I settled in and by about 3 miles I was feeling ok and breathing well. I expected to average about 16 mph but would have been happy with 15 so when I hit the halfway mark going 16.4 I was very pleased. It was a bit easier pedaling back and I was able to bump that up to 17 overall by the time I finished. Along the way I actually passed a whole 2 people and one of them had a flat. I lost count of how many passed me but it was about 20. Oh well, it was all for fun today anyway. (I'm competitive sometimes. I can't help it).

Yes, I was very happy with the bike but when I stepped off and headed into transition my legs were done. The lack of bike training was showing. It's always difficult to run off the bike but with training it does become easier. I'm a long ways from being there now though so I started out with numb, rubbery stumps that felt like I was wearing lead boots. I shuffled along just trying to relax and keep my breathing and heart rate that were still elevated from the ride under control. It was a hilly run course but I was determined to run the whole way despite the way I felt. I mean its only a 5k!!

Well finally after about halfway I started to regain some life in my legs but I was still quite slow finally finishing it in 29:43. My total for the event was 1:22:27 placing 8th out of 9 in my age-group. They had that wrong too. Before the start they had me at 41 ( I wish) and then still had me wrong in the results at 53 (I'm 52 ). All of us had a lot of fun and were happy with their results. Margo won her age-group and Karla was 4th out of 10. Very good considering she is a novice swimmer and just got her road bike the day before. Jerry also won his age-group and Frank was 4th in it. And Stephanie won hers too. Bill and I have a lot of work to do to move up in our group but we were both pretty happy with the result anyway.

While I was waiting for everyone to finish I saw a familiar face but couldn't remember why. Then she recognized me. It was Kara LaBella. She and her sister Laura had come to the Umstead series runs the NCRC and I put on last year. She had just begun doing tris last year and is doing well. Today she would finish 2nd in the 30-34 age-group and 8th overall woman. Pretty impressive for a relative novice at the sport. ( pretty face too )

Here are the results

Here is the website and some photos I took. I missed Margo and Stephanie and Jerry on the course due to timing with the staggered starts. Hopefully I'll have more photos to add that Frank and Karla took so check back in a few days if your interested.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

South Dakota Travels Part 5

Thursday would be my last day in the west and I would began the long drive back to Viborg. My plan was to drive back through the Badlands National Park and then head back. As you drive along the Interstate you can see the outer boundaries of the Badlands area but as you head South and enter the park, an amazing otherworldly place opens up around you. I knew it would be interesting but after going there I think I found it to be the most interesting place I saw on the trip. It's a bit hard to describe so I'll let the pictures do the talking.
I wanted to get in another short run so once I got about 2/3rds of the way around the park drive I came to a parking area at one of the trailheads. There aren't many trails in the park so the choice was easy to make. The photo above was taken along the Capital trail. The trail is marked with metal post every few hundred feet but in areas like in the photo, the trail is not always clearly defined. With the mounds of dirt and rock all around and because of the hard surface, footprints don't show up in dry weather. It would be very easy to get dis-oriented and get lost. Fortunately most of the trail is easy to see once it opens up in the prairie but coming back I got slightly off course. I was only able to regain my bearing because I could catch glimpses of the parking lot when I was on higher ground.

Because of the recent rains the prairie was in bloom with a myriad of wildflowers and I was able to get a few shots of them on the run. I went another 4 miles, feeling ok but fighting a strong headwind on the return trip. Once again it was only about 57F while I was out running. After the run I took a short walk through a fossil interpretive area. South Dakota and Wyoming are known for vast amounts of fossil finds from many eras. In the badlands are many mammal fossils and in other parts of the State dinosaur bones including the worlds largest most complete T Rex have been found. I would really like to spend more time in this area in the future.

Finally it was time to head back to meet Frank and Karla back in Viborg so I began the long drive back east over the prairie. On the way I made a stop in Mitchell Sd to check out the famous Corn Palace which is decorated differently each year with corn over the entire exterior. I was disappointed to find that only the murals were decorated this year while the rest of the normally colorful areas were plain plywood so I didn't take a picture. Here is a site with some from previous years. Then the final hours drive back to Viborg and into another late day thunderstorm. Back in Viborg and more visiting with the Strunk family and then Saturday we drove back to Omaha for the flights home.

I really enjoyed my trip to SD and highly recommend to anyone to visit if they have a chance. I hope to go back someday and spend more time hiking in the beautiful areas I saw now that i have done the tourist visit.

Here are the last days photos

South Dakota Travels Part 4

My destination on Thursday would be Jewel Cave National Monument, about an hours drive southwest of Rapid City. My route would take me back by Mt. Rushmore and then on part of the Needles Highway and onto the Peter Norbeck Memorial Scenic Byway. This was a very beautiful drive over probably some of the roughest terrain in the Black Hills and onto the shoulder of Harney Peak at the border of Custer State Park. Near the highest point of the drive there were wonderfully steep switchbacks, 10moh hairpin turns and sometimes barely wide enough for one car. And all with no guardrails. What fun ! Just make sure you pay attention and have good brakes!

I was a bit worried about going in Jewel Cave because the constant temperature of 49 degrees and I had no jacket but as it turned out, I was glad to finally arrive and get a chance to go inside. This turned out to be the coldest morning yet at 43F and windy. It was a relief to get under ground and warm up. I did have a long sleeve shirt and layered with two t-shirts I was comfortable in the cave . Jewel Cave is now listed as being the 2nd largest cave in the world at 142 miles of passages with only Mammoth Cave in Kentucky being larger. New passages are being explored all the time and a few miles more have been added since the brochure was printed at the Visitor's Center.

Most of the cave is dry so there are not as many formations like in a lot of eastern caverns although there are a few very rare formations in some parts of the cave and one in particular that has never been seen anywhere else in the world. Unfortunately they are not accessible to the public. There is one wet area that was very pretty on the tour though and I got some good shots inside. The tour only covers half a mile in 1.25 hours. The rest of the cave would require crawling through passages about 8" x 18" for long periods. They do offer a short tour for those wanting to experience crawling around that can fit through a concrete block on the veranda outside the visitors center. No Thanks. I'd fit but I ain't going .

The area outside of the monument is the location of the biggest fire in modern history of the Black Hills in 2000 and the landscape is obviously still scarred but also much new life is abounding. After leaving the area I headed to the George S. Mickelson Trail for a short run. There is a trail section and parking area in site of Crazy Horse Mountain so I chose that location to get in a little workout. The trail is a converted rail trail from the original CB&Q RR, which later through mergers was the Burlington Northern at the time it was abandoned and turned over to be made into a rail trail.

It was still chilly, about 55F , perfect for a run but very windy too and the grade along this section is fairly steep by railroad standards. I felt ok after the marathon 4 days prior but the legs injuries were noticeable. I actually ran a decent pace; going downhill. As I was finishing up the run there were once again storm clouds brewing and more rain on the drive back to Rapid City.

Here are the days photos

South Dakota Travels Part 3

So Tuesday morning I was up and out early again. After coffee at Starbucks while I caught up on my e-mail, I headed back into the mountains and over to Mt. Rushmore National Memorial. It was another cool but lovely day in the 50's making it very pleasant for walking around in the sun. Rushmore was very interesting. I think seeing the old photos and videos of the construction were amazing. The area all around in the Black Hills is stunning with the numerous rock formations and greenery. I've never been a rock climber but I've always loved clambering over rocks and there are plenty suitable for that in the area. I took advantage of that to gain some nice vantage points for photos all week.

Here are the photos from Rushmore.

After a few hours I headed down into the valley to the town of Keystone, an old mining town to catch a ride on the 1880 train. While I waited I had lunch and then took a walking tour of the town by some of the historic buildings and mines. I could hear the whistle of the old engine from the train as it headed into town so I headed on over to the depot.
The 1880 Train or The Black Hills Central Railroad is a tourist ride over what's left of a spur line of the original Chicago, Quincy and Burlington RR that was built in the late 1870's to service the mines and communities that sprung up after gold was discovered in 1876. The train today is pulled by a 1920's vintage Baldwin 2-6-6-2 articulated mallet saddletank engine. This engine was rare in it's day and is the only surviving one of it's type. It was actually from a logging RR in Washington State and was purchased by the tourist line for these excursions.
The ride goes from Keystone over to the shops in Hill City, about 10 miles away and then returns for about a 2 hour trip. On the way over there are wonderful views with Harney Peak, the tallest mt in SD and the tallest east of the Rockies at over 7,000 ft. ( The Black Hills are a separate range from the Rockies and lie about 150 miles east of them. Mt Mitchell in NC of course is the tallest east of the Mississippi river) I saw several deer and a half-dozen wild turkeys as well as a bison ranch. There are several mine sites along the way and many of the abandoned structures still stand.
We arrived in Hill City and I could see a lot of the other rolling stock and 3 of the other engines that belong to the railroad. One of the older steam engines is usually just used in TV,and movie scenes and two diesels pull the train during less busy times of the day. The steam engine is the only one powerful enough to pull all the passengers up the steep grades along the route.
On the way back I was getting very chilly. It dropped into the upper 40's and with no jacket and a breeze blowing through the open car it was quite uncomfortable. There are about 19 road crossings along the way so there were a lot of opportunities to hear the whistle echoing through the hills. After I arrived back in Keystone I took advantage of that and chased the train back to Hill City taking numerous photos of the train in action. One shot turned out great and was just a matter of perfect timing. While I waited for the train to come around a bend , a automobile from the same 20-30's era as the steam engine stopped at the road crossing. If not for the modern road signs the picture could have been taken almost 80 years ago.

Here are the photos from the train.

Friday, June 27, 2008

South Dakota Travels Part 2

After we finished the marathon and returned to the Strunk residence, it was time for me to say good-bye for a couple of days and head west to the Black Hills. I drove as far as the Capital, Pierre to spend Sunday night. Lots of open plains and farmland. You pass through the Ft Pierre National Grasslands on the way and for as far as you can see are only gently rolling hills of grass. Boring but with a strange beauty of its own. I could only imagine what it would have looked like 150 years ago with herds of bison roaming around and Indian hunting parties hiding in the grass waiting to strike.

Pierre sits on the banks of the Missouri river and is steeped in history from the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the westward expansion. I walked around town after checking in to my motel and checked out the Capital building to loosen up after the 3 :30 hour drive.

Sunday morning I was up fairly early as usual and after a short visit to the river I was heading further west. I decided that my first destination would be Devils Tower National Monument in the northeastern corner of Wyoming, about 25 miles across the SD border. When I was 12 my family spent four days in Wyoming but we didn't make it into that part of the State and I had always wanted to visit, especially after watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind. If you haven't ever seen the movie you should check it out. One of Spielbergs first blockbusters and Richard Dreyfus was great in the lead role.

It took several hours and I was finally in Wyoming. The area is very beautiful and I decided to do a loop which would take me in both directions around the Monument. I drove through the Belle Fourche river valley and was loving the scenery and in awe of how remote the area is. Also noticed I was low on gas. Should have stopped before leaving the interstate! I had to drive through a cattle drive too as some cowboys were moving a herd to another pasture. I had to ease my way through the cows and then one of the men on a horse rode up and guided them back out of the road.

The first view of the monument was exciting and I pulled over to take the first picture. There would be many more. What an amazing site and every angle is interesting. It is no wander the Native Americans believed it to be sacred ground.
I walked the 1.25 mile trail that encircles the whole monument taking in the views around. It was a cool day, in the 50's so it was very pleasant walking. At one point you can still see the remains of a stake ladder that two local men used to be the first to climb to the summit nearly 100 years ago. On the way out I stopped and sat for a while in the meadow at the base of the monument enjoying the prairie dog town. They were so cute and there were many babies enjoying their first Spring.

I still had plenty of daylight ahead so after barely making it back to the Interstate to get some gas, I decided to head to the scenic drive through Spearfish Canyon back over the SD border. The Black Hills had been through an 8 year drought but now they have been in a period of record breaking rain this Spring. The area was very lush and green and creeks and waterfalls that normally would have been dry were flowing with water. The drive through the canyon was awesome with gorgeous views all around. My first stop was Bridal Veil Falls which can be seen from the road. Later I could see Spearfish Falls off in the distance. Eventually the road comes to a small resort area and there is a parking lot just above the falls. I took the short walk down below the falls. Very pretty and I could feel the spray from the falls across the creek.

After leaving the Canyon drive I drove in the town of Lead, site of the Homestake mine, still the worlds richest goldmine and the reason for white settlers to pour into the Black Hills. I didn't have time to take the tour and it was getting late in the day. Just up the road is Deadwood. It doesn't look anything like it did of course when Wild Bill Hickcock came to town seeking riches in the gold mines. There is a No. 10 Saloon in town but it is a block or so away from where the original one where Hickock was shot was located. In 1876 there were nothing but wood shacks and tents built onto wood platforms and that's what the real saloon would have been. It had burned down and the new one was built later of more substantial material. Here is more history on the Wild Bill.

After a short visit in Deadwood I made the drive to Rapid City which would be the center of my travels for the next few days. It rained everyday I was in the Black Hills but fortunately it would always wait until I was done sight seeing for the day. The first evening in Rapid City a thunderstorm passed through and left a beautiful double rainbow. I got pictures but couldn't get it all in one shot. Here is the photo album from this day

South Dakota Travels Part 1

The first thing we did after arriving in South Dakota was to go to the family reunion for Karla's Mom's side of the family on Saturday. It was going to be held at her cousin Candy and husbands Steve's horse farm about an hour north of Viborg, above Sioux Falls and almost into Minnesota. Just as we were getting close we drove across a bridge over Split Rock Rock. Wait a minute I just saw this picture in South Dakota magazine I was reading last night. As it turned out the farm is on the bluffs just above ther river and Palisades State Park is directly across the river What a beautiful location and to ad icing to the cake a spur line from the Railroad goes right by the house.

All of Karla's family were very nice to me and we enjoyed a relaxing day with plenty of good food. The weather was in the low 70's making it perfect for a picnic. And that picture in the magazine. It was an ad for pontoon boats rides on the river. Steve knows the guys that owns the boat and arranged for us all to take a boat ride. It is a very pretty river with exposed pink quartzite formations along the river giving its name. Then it was time to drive back to Viborg and get ready for the marathon the next morning.

Here are the photos from that day

recovery update

I'm happy to report that I am seeing some improvement in my condition over the last two weeks. I have been very good about sticking with the treatments and workouts that are suppose to aid in my recovery. The chiropractic visits seem to be working in bringing things back into alignment. I had another session with the massage masochist this week and it didn't hurt nearly as much as last week and the muscles are much less tight and knotted. I've been in the pool working on my swimming regularly and sticking with the weights on schedule too. I've been riding the exercycle in the gym a few times and finally went for a 10 mile ride on my real bike for the first time in three years last Saturday morning. The biking and swimming don't seem to aggravate the painful areas and the cross-training will be good for me so I will continue to do them now as part of my regular training.

I have only run 3 miles since the Boogie. That was last Thursday night when I went to the NCRC Social Series at Lake Johnson. I waited for Jenn to show up late from work and we ran an easy 3 miles around the lake. There was a little discomfort but not bad and I was fine afterwards. Probably shouldn't have run but I wanted to run with her since it had been a long time since we'd had the chance to run together.

I've got an important post I'll be writing in the next week or so but first I have to catch up on a few things I don have some free time tonight and this weekend so hopefully I can get caught up here. Look for what's coming up this weekend and I'll also try and post my South Dakota travelogue and photos from the rest of the trip after I left Viborg and the Swan Lake Marathon.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Boogie Blues and other problems

Mmmmm, this Klondike bar is soooo good. Oh, hello. I'm glad your here reading my blog. Yes, I know I haven't written much lately and have been slow in posting my reports. I have been a bit busier than normal the past few months but things have settled down a bit now. But the real problem is I just haven't felt much like posting lately. I have had a very frustrating year with my running performances. There have been a few successes and good times but too many times I've had sub-par performance and several dnf's. Even some of my training runs have been a struggle for a while so now I just have to face reality. I'm injured. I have been for quite a while but I stubbornly tried to run through it and hope it would go away. Well, as you now know that plan didn't work out too well.

I had been on quite a roll with a couple of really great years doing things I never imagined I would be able to accomplish and I guess I had begun to believe that I could go on forever at that pace and not have to take a break. Oh, I thought I should rest but there was always another grand adventure or challenge that I needed to train for or compete in so rest would have to wait.
I guess it started way back last August when I realized I had developed plantar faciitis in my left foot. I was able to run with it so I did and it finally went away a couple of months ago. In the meantime I was still having some running successes including a 5oK pr and my back to back marathons in Nov. and a strong run at Frosty 50 and Tybee although I failed in pr attempts n both races.

I think the real problem started soon after the double marathon in November though. I noticed a lot of stiffness and soreness in my upper hamstrings and into the area where they attach to the pelvic area (my butt) on my training runs. When I would take a short break and start to run it was painful until I got moving again but I figured like everything else it would soon pass. Trouble is it didn't. I had a few massages back in Dec and Jan that seemed to help some but of course I kept racing. I began to notice that my times on courses I normally trained on were becoming dramatically slower at the same effort and my legs were tiring early in my runs.

By the time the Umstead 100 came around I was in a lot of pain and was doubtful I would be able to even start but I was so hard headed and intent on going for the PR that I ran anyway. And of course that didn't turn out too well either. It was another problem that ultimately caused my dnf but after just one loop my legs were tired and achy and I was going much slower than I normally do for a 12.5 mile and even before I had the other problem I was not enjoying being out there and just wishing it would be over. Since I dropped at 69 miles I thought my recovery would be quicker than normal and I took my customary week off after a 100 miler but over the next few weeks my legs and butt were in quite a bit of discomfort and feeling so weak. My hamstrings hurt worse after a 6 mile run than they normally would after a 50 miler. By the time the Garner 5k rolled around they were finally feeling so much better and I was so happy to run a great time there and have life in my legs. But then a week later was the meltdown at Fargo. My legs felt so weak and achy by the 7 mile mark and by 9 I was a mess.

And now I am a big mess. After Fargo I hardly ran at all and I really had no business running Swan Lake but I couldn't pass up a chance to go to SD and run with the Marathon Princess. And then it was time a week later for the Boogie. I knew I shouldn't go but I didn't want to miss out on the fun. Pretty dumb. One loop and coming up Bethel Church Hill one time and my hamstrings were screaming at me for mercy. So I finally listened too them and quit.

So now what? Well before I left for SD, I began to see a chiropractor. X-rays and other test revealed a sublaxation in my lower back and apparently the nerves are only firing about 30% into my hamstring area. That would explain a lot of the weakness.The extreme tightness in my legs and a slight pelvic misalignment combined with the PF have helped to bring about muscle imbalances as other things tried to compensate and relieve the pain creating a screwed up mess in my legs. The good thing is there is a real good chance that it can be corrected. I am taking some time off running and I have re-joined the Y after an absence of three years. There I am working on some strength training as well as swimming and biking again. I am also seeing my massage therapist again and will stick with it regularly until the pain is finally gone. The session Thursday was excrutiating but after I left his office I could already tell a big improvement.

So what about the Boogie? Well it was very hot the first loop, around 94F I think. Typical weather for a Boogie. I really enjoyed being there and seeing so many friends from the MTC and others. A wonderful group of people as always. I started off easy and settled in for a long night ahead. My butt pain was bothering me when I started but as usual it eased off after a mile or so and I was not doing too bad. I ran mostly alone in those early miles but did see a few friends after reaching the Dog Pen aid station. When I rolled into the main a.s. at 6 miles I was doing ok and shortly after heading down the hill, Tony Rouse caught up to me and we ran the next couple of miles together. I assumed we would probably stick together for a good part of the night as we so often do but halfway up Bethel Church Hill I had to let him go as my legs were hurting so much and getting tighter with every step. I know my buddy Fred must have been shocked when I walked into the aid station and as he asked me what I needed I only responded that I was done for the night. Fred and I have shared a few hundred miles on the trail in these ultra's the last couple of years so he knows I don't quit easily unless there is something wrong.

So then I just sat and rested, talked to a few friends and waited for the Trail Angel to finish the marathon. She would place 2nd overall woman in the race and was happy with that on a hot night. I walked with her while she cooled down and told her my sad story of dropping as well as filling her in on the SD trip. It is always nice to have an Angel there to listen when I'm feeling down and it always makes me feel better having a good friend to lend a sympathetic ear.

Now I just take it easy and hopefully I can ease back into running soon. I just know there are not going to be any pr's coming anytime soon but I will be happy just to run pain-free before long.

Here are the Boogie pictures I took

Friday, June 13, 2008

Preparing to Boogie

Yes , Boogie time is finally upon us. Last year I decided not to run with my western states trip looming so I just volunteered. That was fun as usual but I have been looking forward to returning to run it this year. Not too long ago I was planning to go for a 50 mile PR attmept and was confident that I would be able to accomplish that goal. But recently I have been having doubts and have just about decided not to even run it. I have really been struggling with my running for several months now and with the pain and sub-par performances my training as well as my motivation have been lacking.

I decided to wait and make my decision until after the marathon last Sunday and see how that went and how I would feel this week. Although the pace was slow, I defintely felt better than I have in a while and I think maybe the injury issue is finally getting better. I had two nice easy runs on my trip out to western SD this past week and felt ok so I now plan to go ahead with the Boogie. I've already written a couple of reports on the Boogie as well as written and recorded a song so I won't repeat the race info here now. Go to the archives in June for years past if you're interested in that. Of course you can find the race website at the link for the Mangum Track Club in the sidebar fo the blog too.

I am suppose to run the Race for the Cure 5k in the morning and hopefully take a nap before driving to Ellerbebut that plan isn't looking too good right now. I should be home but thunderstorms in Cleveland have delayed my flights and I'm still waiting for a plane to carry me home. It's looking like it will be after midnight befpore I land in RDU and well after 1 am before I can get home so I will probably be sleeping in and not attempt to wake up at 5am. I hate to miss it and run with Karla. The race has had special meaning the past couple of years and I was looking forward to being there and running in pink with her again. I guess I'll be wearing pink at the Boogie in her honor instead.

Swan Lake Marathon 2008

With a 6am start, we were up early but with it being only a 5 minute drive over to the lake we we in no rush. During the evening there had been thunderstorms until the early hours of the morning but sunrise dawned to a beautiful morn with a promise of good weather ahead of us. We arrived at the camp in time for last minute preparations and walked over to the starting line.

At the go signal, we headed off into the prairie on the dirt road at a relaxed pace with neither one of us feeling too confident of a good time,but just looking forward to finishing comfortably. Frank was with us and hoping to hang around for a while but as we made the first turn and up a little hill he dropped behind a little and that would be the end of that. We passed through the first mile in 9:37 feeling good and settled in for the long distance ahead. We hit mile 2 in 9:56, about what we were hoping to average for the day. The field for both races was small so we were already spread out quite a bit and it would just be the two of us alone to enjoy the sights around us. It was a little humid but otherwise felt great with the air around 59F and only a slight hint of the usual prairie wind.

The course is comprised of two large loops in a figure 8 so we began making the first lap around the lake area. It is a pretty lake with some shaded areas and some small homes along the waterfront. Karla pointed out where she and her friends would lay out by the lake on what used to be a little beach area. As we came up one of the small hills to the 5 mile mark our paced had slowed to the 10:15 range. We still felt ok but both thought the effort seemed like we should be moving faster. Oh well, it was all for fun so we just moved along and hit the highway and headed into Viborg. It is about 2miles into town once you get onto Hwy 19. Very flat but also very little traffic. It is also one of the few paved parts of the course with most on smooth gravel roads that felt nice and soft from all the rain in the area recently. After passing quickly through the small town we were back into the farm land and another long straight dirt road. This one had a little mud but was easily avoidable. I was wearing new, mostly white shoes and they would still be mostly white by the end of the race.

The road was straight as an arrow with a few gentle hills as we headed back to the lake to complete the first large loop. Already the pace was slowing to about 11 minute miles. I was feeling good but I could already tell Karla wasn't having one of her better days. I think this is the 7th marathon I have run with her as well as countless long training runs so I can easily tell when she isnt having a good day. I noticed some beautiful, fragrant lavender flowers growing by the road so I picked a small sprig and handed it to her hoping it would lift her spirits and she stuck them in the strap of her water bottle. Soon we passed the spot where the half- marathoners would turn to finish and I looked back and could just see Frank in the distance so we knew he was going to finish in about the time expected. We continued straight ahead and back to the lake somewhat frustrated that the pace was slowing with each mile.

After a while we reached the mile 16 aid station where Karla's Mom and Aunt Ginny were volunteering. We spent a couple of minutes there before moving on. By then it was evident that it was not a good day for the Princess. I was feeling good but at the pace we were moving I should have. Time was not important to me though so I stayed with her and just tried to keep her spirits up as much as I could. But by mile 18 the fatigue was too much and she started walking. At that point we made the decision to just get to the end with as little stress as possible. The next several miles would pass slowly but we used the slow pace to get in some bird watching as well as admiring the flowers along the marshes.

As we continued the run- walk , we saw lots of redwing blackbirds and several beautiful birds that neither of us remembered ever seeing before with a yellow head and big white spots on it's wings. I tried to get some pictures and hope they turn out ok.( a look in Carmen's bird book showed it to be a yellow headed Blackbird ). By mile 24 she decided she just didn't want to run anymore so we walked the last two miles. It was a beautiful day for a walk and only reached 72F for the day. A nice morning for two friends to share a walk around the lake. Too bad we were suppose to be running a marathon.

It's time to re-group for both of us now but I was encouraged that my legs felt a lot better than they have in a long time. Hopefully I have turned the corner and good times are ahead. The race itself is a nice one. A certified course in a lovely small town prairie setting. Plenty of aid along the course and good food at the finish. Not the place to come if you need cheering crowds but if you like a small, well organized race this is a good one to give you an excuse to check out South Dakota.

Here are the photos from the race:

I'll post the rest of my South Dakota photos in other post for anyone interested in my travelogue

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Greetings from Viborg

The trip out went well with no problems encountered. I'm always amazed at the vast amounts of farmland passing below as I fly over the heartland of America. We flew into Omaha and rented a nice car for the 2.5 hour drive to Viborg. The first thing I noticed as I flew over Omaha were the vast networks of railroad tracks. Omaha is the home of the Union Pacific Railroad and the BNSF also has a big presence in the area. As we started the drive I noticed the hills over to the east and Karla told me they were the Council Bluffs which the city in Iowa gets it's name from. I found the countryside on the drive over to be pretty and green although quite flat the further north we drove. They have been getting a very heavy rainfall for a long time and there is a lot of flooding in low lying areas Many fields are under water and it doesn't loook good for a lot of crops getting put in in time this year. Could be more price pressure on food this year as a result. It is sad to see the damage knowing that it will affect so many farmers livelihood.

We finally arrived in Viborg around 5pm and met up with Karla's parents. After dinner we drove over to Swan Lake to pick up our packets. We wouldn't have time to do that at the regular time on Saturday because we are driving north of Sioux Falls to Karla's Strunk family reunion. Her mother is part of the race committe so it was no problem picking up our numbers early. We were allowed to pick our own numbers so I am #1 and Karla is #2. I guess the others will think we are the out of town hot shot elite runners. Ha! Frank is #100 in the half-marathon. It looks like here are only about 100 in both races, a few less than last year. Probably due to the Deadwood Mickelson Trail marathon being held the same day in the Western part of the state. It is surprising how many marathons they have in SD considering how little the population is compared to some other states.

It looks like we will get lucky with the weather. The start should be in the 50's and the high is only suppose to reach 75. With the 6am start heat shouldn't be a problem although there won't be any shade on the course. It's nice to get away from the heatwave in NC ths week. I'll try to post results tomorrow. Stay Tuned

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Returning to Dakota Territory

Over the 52 years of my life I have been fortunate to have traveled over a large portion of the USA. In my youth my family took several long car trips out West to California among others as well as a couple of trips North into Canada and South to Florida. I also have traveled to many other States with past jobs I've had. In the process I figured I had been in about 33 States but had never been to either one of the Dakota's so I guess it is a bit strange that I will have visited both on two separate trips within a three week period. I hadn't really planned it that way but it's funny how things work out.

A couple of years ago the Marathon Princess was perusing the schedule of races at and was shocked to see that there was a Swan Lake Marathon in Viborg SD. Shocked because that is where she was born and raised and her parents still live there. As a teen, she and her friends would go to Swan Lake in the summers to hang out by the lake. When you consider the town has maybe 800 residents and is about 45 minutes from a town of any size and is in the middle of corn country. Last year she was able to go and run the race but I was not able to make the trip but I promised her if at all possible I would go this year to run with her and visit her family. So I made arrangements to take a weeks vacation to run and then head West into the Badlands area for a few days.

Here is a link to the race website.

Last year there were 85 finishers in the marathon and 38 in a half marathon in which Frank ran.
The race cap is 300 but I don't know how many will show up. The course has been certified and is a Boston Qualifier. I have no plans for that though. Karla and I will run together and just hope to get finished in good shape. Neither one of us has been running well lately. Perhaps I'll post more on that subject when I get home.

I'll try to post the results from SD if I can and I should have a lot of photos form the race as well as some scenes from the Black Hills when I return. Stay tuned.