I recently got back into running again. I haven’t really been “out” of running, but for the past year, I’ve been more of a casual runner than a competitive one. After a recent talk with one of my nurses, I’ve decided to “bring out the beast” so to speak. For those of you who worry, I am being precautious. For one, I don’t run alone outside very much and when I do I carry a cellphone. I always make sure I’m hydrated and have just eaten a snack before I run. Trust me, I have no secret ambition to look like this guy again. Anyway, wedding plans, school, and about a million other things have sidetracked my training until the end of the summer. When cross country started, my friend Jeff would send me out to run with the top group of guys or girls. I would absolutely die about 15-20 minutes into the run.

I ran pretty much every day at practice and also on my own. I started eating healthier (who knew two Mountain Dew cans a day wasn’t healthy for you). On runs, I started pushing myself a little more and I’ve been doing very well lately.Two weeks ago, I ran 3 miles in 20-minutes on a treadmill. I was surprised because I had thought I’d “fallen off” since my last real hard training halted in about May of 2005. Last week, I was feeling like seeing what I could run for a 5k on a treadmill. I was in disbelief when I ran a 5k (3.1 miles) in 19:25. The fastest that I had ever run when I was in my best shape of my life on a treadmill was 19:15.

A little story about my running before I get to yesterday’s 5k. I had gotten a little fat in college. I wasn’t so fat that I needed a Made coach or anything like that, but I was noticably chunky. Nobody really noticed it because all I wore was size XXL clothes to begin with, but that’s a completely different story. Anyway, during my last year of college, I picked up running as a hobby that soon turned into a bit of an obsession. I ran my first marathon (Twin Cities 2003) in a shade under 5 hours. I really picked up my training to the point where I ran multiple races finishing with decent times. My two best races that I can recall were the 2004 Twin Cities Marathon in a not-super-impressive-but-well-above-average time of 3:26:41 and the 2005 Fargo Half Marathon in 1:32:53. Anyway, due to a change in priorities, a pretty major shakeup last November, coaching, planning a wedding, and going to school, I just haven’t made running a huge priority. Like I said earlier, though, I have started to train a little more and I am doing things a little different this time. I think the last 2-1/2 year training cycle, I emphasized distance, but not enough speed. This time around, I am first going to develop the speed and then work on the distance. Whether or not one way is better or not, I have no idea. Back to my story from yesterday…

I don’t know that I’ve officially run a 5k when I was trying to run fast. Let me rephrase that – I’ve run two 5k’s where I was trying to break 20 minutes which is something I’ve never done. I’ve run a 19:15 on a treadmill, but I just don’t know how much stock I put into that. The first race was two summers ago. I ran the Turkey Trot 5k in Frazee, MN. I wound up running a 20:41, but I know the course was as much as 1/4 mile long. One of our runners who would go on to run a 17:20 just four months later finished in somewhere around 19:45. I was frustrated because I knew that I had it in me to break 20. The only other race I’ve tried to break 20 in was at the Arena 5k on Thanksgiving Day in the Cities. Unfortunately, about 5,000 other people were running the race. I thought it started a half-hour later than it did, so I didn’t get a chance to warm up. My goal was to run about a 6:20-6:30 first mile and then pick it up from there. With 5,000 people at the starting line and me near the back, I had to do my fair share of dodging and weaving through the crowd. I hit the first mile in 7:00 and mentally just gave up because I knew there was little to no chance that I was going to break 20.

Fast forward to yesterday. I had run 19:25 the other day, so I wrote down some split times I’d need to run 19:15 with hopes that if I had enough in the tank, I could speed it up at the end to wind up in the low 19’s. My split times called for me to go out in 5:52 for the first mile, slow down to 6:11 for the second mile, and then slow way down to 6:30 for the last mile – the average mile time being 6:12. When I’m running a 5k on the treadmill, I mentally do a few things. First, I try to get through the first two miles. I break it down by every quarter mile. For example, once I hit 1.25 miles, I focus just on getting to 1.5 miles. Once I get to 2 miles, I focus on every tenth of a mile until I get to 2.6 miles. With a half mile to go, I start picking up the pace every 0.5 miles for a strong finish. So yesterday, I went out in 5:53 for the first mile. Surprisingly, I felt tremendous, so instead of slowing down, I just kept on trucking. I hit the 2 mile marker at 11:46 which was about 15 seconds faster than I had planned. I was still feeling surprisingly good, so I kept the pace at 10.2 miles per hour. When I hit the 2.35 mark (3/4 of a mile to go), I started picking it up to 10.5 MPH. When I hit 2.60 miles, I picked it up again going 0.1 MPH faster every 0.5 miles. I was blown away when I hit 3.10 miles in a time of… (drumroll please)… 17:55. First things first, I know that 17:55 is not the time I could go out and run in a race right now. Running on a treadmill is easier than running outside. Running outdoors, you have things such as wind, hills, and a crowd to deal with. I do know that the 17:55 suggests that I could run a relatively decent time when I do get around to racing. I’m eyeing December 2nd as a possible race date. I had earlier looked at running the Walt Disney Half Marathon while I was on my honeymoon. While I doubt I’ll be doing that, there is a chance I might sign up for the Securian Frozen Half-Marathon in the end of January. I’ve run it once before and ran a 1:36 which I was very pleased with at the time. I might make sub-1:30 a goal. We’ll see…

It’s a great time to be interested in running for me. This Saturday, our cross country teams run in the state meet. We have the top ranked boys team and the number two ranked girls team. We have the top ranked individual boy and the number 8 ranked individual girl. I don’t think it is being to optimistic to think that we could put possibly more than one runner in the top 10 of both the guys and girls race. We could have multiple All-State runners. I don’t know for sure what will happen, but it is very exciting. If that isn’t exciting enough for you, everyone’s favorite endurance athlete Lance Armstrong is going to be running his first marathon in New York this weekend. It should be very interesting to see what kind of time he can put up. Other celebs running include Kim Alexis, Natalie Morales, Shannon Miller, Gov. Mike Huckabee (Arkansas), Adam Graves, Mike Richter, and Bobby Flay (who apparently is a chef which makes him a celebrity even though I’ve never heard of him). Besides Lance, the runner that I’ll be watching with the most interest is former Colorado runner Dathan Ritzenhein. He’s making his first attempt at a marathon. He holds the Footlocker National record for the fastest 5k times as a high schooler (14:35 on a grass course in which he built fellow future Olympian Alan Webb). He won the 2003 NCAA championship, and qualified for the 2004 Olympics in the 10k.

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  • First things first – what is a worse sign? I just picked up Jon Kitna to be my starting fantasy football quarterback. Is that a better or worse sign than the fact that he’s replacing Chad Pennington. By the way, when you get 9 weeks into the season, you are hoping that you aren’t writing a “…so I picked up Jon Kitna…” story on your blog. My buddy Ryan lives in Seattle, but because of a wonderful season by Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander, I officially hate the city.

  • Congrats to former Perham runner Jake Januszewski who finished fourth in the D1 Independent National Championships with a time of 25:41 for the NDSU Bison. Also, congrats go out to another former Perham runner Gabrielle Anderson who is running for the Lady Gophers. She finished 27th place overall, but was 4th on the 3rd place team (you got all that!?!) in the Big Ten Championships. The last I checked, the Gophs were rated 6 in the nation. Read more about her big race on Lakesareasports.com.

  • Congrats go out to yours truly who placed 10th overall in Seth Speak’s MLB playoff challenge. I was getting killed earlier in the playoffs, but my Cards and Tigers pulled me through.

  • A headline on IMDB said “Oprah Gives Audience $1,000 Debit Cards.” I cannot stand Oprah. My fiance Sara watches it all the time while I usually read a book or play on the computer. She’s always quick to say “…see, isn’t she nice…” or mention something about all the good causes that Oprah’s show provides for others. I just hate it when I see a headline like this. I don’t know the details, but I’m strongly guessing that Oprah did not take out her checkbook, and write a $300,000 check so her audience members could all have a $1,000 debit card. I’m sure in small print after the show, you’ll see something thanking Visa/Mastercard or some random bank for their donation. This is how this works though… someone donates something to Oprah’s audience… be it a car, money, or whatever. Oprah “gives” it to her audience. In turn, the audience and every female in America thinks that she’s such a wonderful person. At the same time, most fail to realize that by giving out more and more stuff, Oprah has just bought herself more fame which in turn equals more money and power for her. She’s not an awful person and I’ve been entertained by her program before, but some of the whole aura of Oprah is too much.

That is all for today my friends. As my fiance said to me this morning on the phone, have a “spooktacular” Halloween. I plan on spending it passing out candy and making Sara watch “The Shining” for the first time ever.

If you’re out on your bike tonight, do wear white,