Monday, April 25, 2011

Chamber Challenge 5K

Mark: Yesterday we ran the Eden Prairie Chamber Challenge 5K, a smaller local race that was sponsored in part by Premier Sports and Spine, Kris's physical therapist . As a sponsor she received a number of comped entries and she offered two of them to us.

This was our third race in as many weeks, each at different distances, so it has been interesting managing our trainings during the week. Granted the weather has not been helping either, Thursday we went out to the Legends course intending to run the 10K route and just as we arrived at Deephaven Elementary school it started to rain. Normally I might have stuck it out but it was also 43 degrees, I'd rather avoid getting sick again, so going into this week's race we had not run since Monday and made it only to swim on Tuesday due to a little too much celebrating for my birthday. Kris:  Oops...ok two glasses of wine and two apple-tini's did me in but the birthday outing was totally worth it :)  Dinner at The Butcher Block and then we went to see Flanagan's Wake put on by the Actor's Theatre of Minnesota.  I HIGHLY recommend it!  Just don't forget your camera at I did....sigh... 

Race morning we woke up to the sound of rain on the windows and from the beginning we had our doubts about what we be able to manage at the race but we got up, got dressed, grabbed a quick english muffin and got out the door, stopping only briefly fill our mugs with our favorite morning beverage, Caribou Coffee. We we arrived at Purgatory Creek reserve picked up our race packet and then retired to the car just to stay warm for the next 30+ minutes.

With a few minutes before the start of the race, Kris and I ran down the course about a half a mile to warm up a bit. To my surprise a lot more people had showed up and there was close to about 200 participants lined up for the start. As I looked around there were a few runner runners and a hand full of high schoolers so I thought I could potentially have a good race. After we got started I quickly found myself in second place, the guy out in front took off and I knew I could never touch him, and I was guessing that he was running sub-6:00, out of my league. But as I took quick glances behind me I was in good shape, or so I thought. Through almost 2 miles I was holding onto 2nd place and then I faded just a bit, not much but enough to get passed 5 times. Sigh..... Yes I did start out a bit fast but not to bad and I was able to hold onto my pace through out most of the race. As we turned to cross the lake, running into the wind took a bit more out of me and I had almost nothing for the final tenth of the race. It is a little bit frustrating to be able to read the clock as you are running to the finish line and you can tell there is nothing you can do as the clock approaches 21:00.

Final time 21:07 (6:48 pace). Unfortunately my Garmin and everyone else with a GPS was indicating that the coarse was long, I had 3.17 and I heard 3.2 several times. If I recalculate for an actual 3.11 5K my time should have been about 20:43 (6:40 pace) which would have been a new PR. Oh well!! But that brings up a pet peeve of mine, if you are a race director, there are a VERY FEW things that you CAN NOT screw up, TIMING and DISTANCE are two of the most important!!! Which is why Kris and I were taking extraordinary efforts to make sure that the Legends is correct.

Here is my Garmin Connect data from the race. Remember that that the race course was long (3.17 according to my GPS) and that I actually finished in 21:07, you can actually see that in the race map (I wander over to the snack line) and my HR suddenly slows down.

Aside for the distance being wrong and forgetting to stop my Garmin at the finish, oh and as Kris will tell you, I missed her finish 1st female overall, it was a good small race. I ended up finishing 7th overall, 2nd in my AG, remember the guy who took off at a sub-6:00 pace? He was first overall and of course he was in my age group as well.

Kris:  I was going into the race feeling very under prepared.  That's also been a common theme lately for me.  Our warm up run felt hard on my heart rate so I wasn't sure what was going to happen once the race got started.  I began at the front of the pack with Mark since it's a gun start.  I took off and because of the down slope and the pack of men I was surrounded by, I looked down at my first 1/4 mile and was running about 6:30 pace.....ok SLOW DOWN!  I knew I had to pull up a bit or I was never going to make it.   I slowed up to around a 7:30 and then realized something....everyone ahead of me was male.  I was the first female out of the gate.   I got a small peak behind me around the half way point and realized the next two women were about 50 yards behind me.   Trying not to care if they caught up, I just did my best to hold a fast pace and go for my own PR.   I think I held up fairly well and even 'chicked' two guys within the last half mile.   I knew I still had a decent lead and was going to come in as first place female.   It doesn't feel like a massive accomplishment since it was such a small race but still something to be proud of.  So as I was running to the finish line and people I didn't know were cheering, I was looking around......NO MARK.  Crossed the finish line....still NO MARK.   Where is he?  So I walked towards the food area and sure enough he was over there with a cookie and bottle of water.   I know he knows about how fast I run so he will never live down that he has now missed me coming in as first place female TWICE because he was parched and needed a sip of water.   Couldn't wait 3 minutes to see me finish first.   :-P    Sorry Honey, I love you but will be giving you grief about that for a long time ----<{@  

Final time: 24:08 (7:46 pace).   As Mark mentioned, the course was long so it may have been a new 5k PR for me as well if it was measured correctly.  Average Heart Rate - 187.   Leg/IT Band is definitely more sore today (Monday) after that hard 5k run and a long easy recovery 12 miler yesterday.  Going for a soak at the club over lunch today since I'm working from home.   Realized I am almost back to the distance where my injury occurred last year so I'm a bit nervous about the next few weeks.

Mark: It was probably the most profitable race we have ever ran, 2 free entries and between the two of us we brought home $75 in Scheels Gift Cards. Not a bad morning at all.

Next up - Walk on Waconia 10 Mile. Kris and I sat down last night and look at our remaining races as we approach Grandma's and decided that we are going to concentrate on the the equivalent paces the McMillan predicts that we can run, 10 mile, 1/2 marathon and 20 mile.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Birthdays and Geocaching!

Mark: I have been geocaching for 5 years now and during that time I sort of stumbled onto my own personal tradition, Birthday Geocaching. I pick a day, typically the weekend before or after my birthday, and I just take off and go geocaching. Three years ago I took off and drove up the North Shore, then over to Ely to then finally to Alvin's Phone Line. Two years ago when I met Kris, my birthday geocaching trip was her first extended experience geocaching and she loved it, so now it continues as a annual event.  Kris:  One I look forward to every year :)

Mark: This year I was having a hard time decided where we wanted to go and then it dawned on me, why not run a race and then cache the rest of the day, but where and what race. It was Kris who came up with the best idea, why not run the Earth Day Half Marathon and cache around the St. Could area, but he best part of it was she suggested we run the race as a relay team, that way it would not be too much running, we would still have some energy for caching the rest of the day.

As you may have already read we had a great time running the half marathon relay and ironically at the finish line was Jam3s, one of our geocaching friends. After we changed out of our running gear we started to look for caches the find, since Jam3s was from the St. Cloud area I sent him a message asking for any recommendations, he had one, Pillar of the Community, which turned out to be quite the challenge.

All in all we found 20 caches, not a lot but we were not concentrating on numbers. We DNF's 4 I think, but that number might not be as high if the weather had been a little warmer. It was frustrating getting cold while looking for the caches. It's April......It should not be this cold, not to mention the snow that was on the ground when we got up this morning.

One other side note about birthday caching this year. The month of April has always been my busiest, (most caches found) month, birthday caching trips have helped. But there was one day of the month that I had never found a cache, April 16th. Convenient that my birthday trip fell on the 16th this year. ;)

Kris: I tried to do my best to video the experience so here ya go.....sorry it was a bit windy!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Earth Day Half Marathon

Earth Day Run Half Marathon
Kris: This past weekend Mark and I went up to St. Cloud for the Earth Day Run Half Marathon as a two person relay.  Unfortunately our training this past week got a bit off so I was a bit nervous as to what kind of pace I could push through.  It was a very chilly morning so we had to drag out the cold weather gear after being in our shorts the past week or so.  I ran the first half and was hoping to hang on to the 7:38min/mi (1:40 half) group for as long as I could.  I knew it was very unlikely that I'd stick with them for the whole distance but I want to push myself a bit as opposed to running a) without a pacer or b) with the 8:00 min/mi (1:45 half).  I was fairly confident I could do the 8:00 min pace so I had to jump down to 7:38.   Plus, looking at last year's results, Mark and I were confident in the possibility that we could place as a co-ed team if we ran a combined time of under 1:40:00.

I was really nervous at the start since I knew it was going to be a fast pace for me but we took off and, without throwing too many elbows, tried to stay right on the heels of the pacers.  The first two miles didn't feel too bad but right after mile 3 I got that "wall" feeling and I started to slowly trail off the back of the group.  Holding on for 3 miles though felt good and makes me a bit more confident at a potential PR at this weekend's Chamber Challenge 5k. 
My half was fairly flat and I was happy with how I did.  Ended with an avg heart rate of 182 (yeah...i know it's high but it's always been that way :-P)  I definitely think running with music again this year has been helpful for me.  It puts my mind on something other than my severely heavy breathing and pounding heart rate and allows me to push a bit faster (I think).  

Mark: After the race started I had a little time to kill so I dropped off our stuff at the car and then came back to the field house to stretch and stay warm until it was time to head down to the exchange point. After a short walk I warmed up by running down the course a bit which brought me to a GU stop and then a water stop which was idea as we had breakfast much earlier in the morning and I knew I might need a bit more energy. My goal was to run the second half in the 6:46-6:52 pace range which is about a 42:00-42:40 10K.

While I was waiting for Kris I watched the other relay teams come through the exchange and to my pleasant surprise, when Kris got there only two Coed teams were ahead of us, unfortunately they were a couple minutes ahead and it was unlikely that I could catch them but perhaps I could claim 3rd place for us. I kept a close eye on who I was passing and the very few runners that passed me, relay teams had an ankle chip as opposed to one on the shoe and it was bright orange so it was easy to spot. All in all I think there was only 2 other relay runners who passed me, and as the race wore on I desperately tried to keep them in my sights but they just got beyond my reach. One in particular was easy to spot as he was wearing a bright orange hat, as as it turned out that was the one I really needed to stay with.

Kris already mentioned that it was cold out but on my half of the course the wind became a factor and it was quite strong and we turned to head back at the southern most part of the course. The southern part of the course was also rolling hills and combined with the wind slowed me down a bit, plus I was getting tired. 10K is about the limit that most runners can maintain at or above Anaerobic Threshold. For me my predicted max HR is 182 and I averaged 167 for 7+ miles.

Here is a map of my half of the course.

I was also running with music (Daft Punk Alive 2007) I think it is helping me out as well and for most of the race I was in my own zone but near the end as we were approaching the stadium, with about a 1/4 mile left, I had an opportunity to have a little fun. Another relay runner passed me and on the side of the road, what must have been his partner was screaming and yelling at him to pick it up he was almost there, running beside him to encourage him on. I let him go not worrying about them being a coed team and just focused on my finish. As we turned the corner and headed onto the football field (That is second football field finish line in as many weeks, Goldy's the week before) I dropped the hammer and took off. Now I don't know if this is a failing of mine but I have always been able to finish a race, last 100-200 yards at my top speed, perhaps I am not leaving enough on the course but that is what I have always been able to do, I would love any opinions about that. So anyway the guy who passed me was about 10 yards ahead and I easily caught him and then dropped him like a bad habit, I think his team mate pushed him to start his sprint for the finish line too soon as he was fading fast. Good thing I did pass him. ;)

Kris: After the race we hung out and chatted with a number of friends that were there running and/or cheering.  We were both in serious need of a stretch, Mark's calves have been getting tight and my IT and quad seems to be a little unhappy after cool-down.   I haven't noticed any problems DURING running though so I'm staying confident that I'm going to make it through the marathon distance.  I'm still ramping up my mileage very slowly compared to a normal schedule but I'm finally up to distances that makes me feel a bit more like a runner again and obviously the reduced mileage per week hasn't had an effect on my pace.  If anything, Mark and I have been chatting about how we both seem faster this year and don't entirely know why.  Part of me thinks it may be due to the fact that I'm about 10 lbs lighter than I was a year ago.

I was very excited that Tonic Sol-fa was part of the post-race entertainment.  I've been such a huge fan of their music and tried to be close to the stage without looking like a mosh-pit stalker as most people seemed to be standing at least 40 ft back from the stage.

Here is our post-race recap video:

Awards came and went without our name being called.  I was kinda bummed but at the same time excited to find out we came in 4th place out of 66 co-ed relay teams and 10th out of 202 total teams. Mark: (Catching that guy at the finish paid off) Kris: We missed third place by 57 seconds!!  We both enjoyed the race and have agreed that we would like to come back to try for a new team PR and hopefully a podium spot :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

McMillian Running Calculator - Is it right?

Recently we've been using the McMillan Running Calculator to try and figure out our training paces and what pace groups we should try to stay with during races.  I've heard a lot of people talk about how great this calculator is for figuring out what paces you should be training at and what your body "should" be able to do in terms of setting PRs so now that I figured out the best way for me to use it, I wanted to post what I learned and see what you all think.

First Calculation:  Based on my half marathon PR from last year of 1:54:58 (Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon), the calculator says I can do the following:
  • 1 mile in 7:10.8
  • 10 mile in 1:26:34
  • Marathon in 4:02:28
  • Easy Run Pace: 9:46-10:16min/mi
  • Tempo Runs: 8:25 - 8:47min/mi
CONCLUSION:  This was not a good basis for pacing.  My current PRs for all of the above listed races except the marathon is faster than what this calculation said I could do them in.  Plus running an easy pace at 10:00min/mi is much slower than what I normally do and consider an easy pace.

Second Calculation:  Based on my 10 mile PR from last year of 1:24:02 (Monster Dash), the calculator says I can do the following:
  • 1 mile in 6:58.1
  • Half Marathon in 1:51:36
  • Marathon in 3:55:22
  • Easy Run Pace: 9:29-9:59/mi
  • Tempo Runs: 8:10- 8:31/mi
CONCLUSION: This was a better basis for pacing my current training but still didn't feel quite right.  Granted I was slighly injured when I made this 10 mile PR but these times were not enough of a push for me personally.  My 1 mile PR is already 12 seconds faster than what's listed and my tempo runs currently get down usually in the 7:50s.

Third and FINAL Calculation:  Based on my 1 mile PR from last year of 6:46 (TC 1-Mile), the calculator says I can do the following:
  • 10 mile in 1:21:36
  • Half Marathon in 1:48:21
  • Marathon in 3:48:32
  • Easy Run Pace: 9:14-9:44/mi
  • Tempo Runs: 7:49- 8:06/mi
CONCLUSION: BINGO!! I just got a new 10 mile PR last week of 1:19:55, I've been thinking I want to try to stay with the 8:15 pace group for my upcoming half marathon which puts me at a finishing time of 1:48:05 with my ultimate goal of trying to stay with the 8:45 pace group for Grandma's Marathon which is a 3:49:25.  PERFECT!!

So I am all for using the McMillan Running Calculator to determine my goals for the races leading up to my "A" race of Grandma's Marathon IF I base them off my 1 mile PR.

Who else has used this calculator and what have you figured out about it?  Anyone else have feedback or suggestions on figuring our marathon training paces?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Goldy's Run - Check This Out!

Kris:  Two new PRs and a podium finish.  Yeah.....seriously!

I wasn't really sure what was going to come out of today.  Originally I wanted to try for a straight 8:15min/mi pace.  Then after our last long easy run that felt like maybe it would be too much so I decided to stay with the 8:30 pacers for 5 miles and then try to take off for the second half.  Then we found out the course was actually quite hilly.  Ah, wtf do I do??  Stick to the plan and hope for the best. Mark: After our last long run where we were testing out our pacing, I decided it might be best to stick with the 7:30 group and save some speed for the last couple of miles.

Kris: I was feeling pretty good by time we hit the start line since we had quite a few friends around us.   We found Don and Scott from MN Running Wild, Tina, Adam and Leah were pacers for the race, Steve, Tony (Gilby) was there for his first road race in his training for Grandma's and of course the ever awesome Brandon and Theresa (Team Baby Dinosaur) up from CO for the week. Mark: Last night I tweeked my hip and it was still bothering me when I woke up this morning so I was not sure what was going to happen. Luckily some Biofreeze and Ibuprofen made all this difference and by the start of the race I felt great. It really was a who's who of people who we know, in addition to our friends Kris already mentioned we also ran into Pete and saw several TNT'ers as well.

Tony and I ran the first half with the 8:30 pace group which was actually being led by Leah so it went by really fast since we were distracted chatting quite a bit.  Part of me wanted to take off before the 5 mile mark because I knew it was flat but I stuck to my plan.   It actually worked out great because shortly after the 5 mile mark was this wonderful LONG downhill that gave me a great recovery and lots of speed.  I had my Garmin lap set for 0.25mi and one of them going downhill was like 7:16 min/mi.   Geez!  Granted then I got my rear handed to me going up the LONG uphill.  I have this habit of trying to power up hills and then recover after.  It works but it gets my heart rate up .  I think I was around 190 at least twice on the course.

Mark: I started out with the 7:30 pacer and as much as I tried I could not stay at that pace, so after the first mile I settled into my own pace which was somewhere between 7:00 and 7:30 and slowly pulled ahead. This course was indeed hilly but for me that works to my strengths, I honestly like hills and I make most of my passes on climbs. Since I recently got a new Garmin I have been keeping an eye on my HR during training runs and now races. At the top of every climb I quickly checked and my HR was consistently at 161 with the last major hill peaking my HR at 162 so I was very happy with that.

Kris: I had my headphones on for the race and honestly I think it helps me pass the time much better and not think so much about how tired I am.  I also would love to credit my new Newton's for some of my speed.  They are extremely comfortable for me.   Granted as you can see by the below picture, if I'm not concentrating (like when I flag down Steve Stenzel who's cheering and taking pictures), I am a horrible heel striker.

Of course here is Mark, not in Newtons, in a perfect stride as usual :-P

The race was very unique in that the finish was around the TCF Stadium and down onto the field, ending at the 50 yard line.  So the last 1/4 to 1/2 mile was flat, around the building and down the ramp. I do have to say it was a seriously awesome finish area.    (could probably use a few more post race treats though ;) Mark: After you loop around the stadium, you enter Gate D and run through the dark tunnel which is a stepped slope down to the field level, and if you're not careful you could loose your footing, luckily I was able to hit the field at a full out sprint and even passed a few more runner on the way to the 50 yard line. 

Tony, Kris and Mark
Kris: We all hung out at the finish, took some photos and then myself, Mark and Tony decided to further drag Brandon and Theresa into the awesome obsession of geocaching.   There was a creative hide on campus that we brought them over to and had them make the find.   And while enjoying a mocha treat at Caribou, without any prompting, Tony also told Brandon how ridiculously awesome it is that he's a pilot and could rapidly fill in the states map.   (See Brandon.....geocachers may be nerds but you would be a really cool nerd! :-P )

So the race was great and the company was really great.   Mark came out with a killer PR. Mark: Thanks Honey! My previous PR was over 3 years old and I thoroughly enjoyed testing my legs, I am definitely a better runner then I was in 2008, my first season. I improved my PR by 11:04! Now I just need to break 1:10, but I promise not to get obssed with a sub 1 hour 10 mile. ;)

Kris: And I took about 4 minutes off my previous 10 mile PR, managed about a 8:06 min/mi average (up for discussion as the course measurement seems to be about .20 different than our GPS watches).

The only REALLY unfortunate part of the race was that I got 3rd in my age group and could have been part of the awards ceremony but I had no idea and left!! AHH!  I age up in 2 months and will likely have little to no shot at a podium finish against 30-34 women so I was super bummed that I didn't know and we didn't stay.   (Hey Podium.....please make sure their is a REALLY obvious place to get your results immediately after the race.  We briefly looked for it before we left and didn't see it)   So I'm very excited to get my award in the mail but really bummed I wasn't part of the ceremony. Mark: Congrats Honey!! Your so much faster then you give yourself credit. You will have a chance at another podium real soon.

Kris: I have to be very relieved and happy though that I didn't ONCE think about my knee.  It didn't hurt or feel "wanky" at all during the race.  Tonight sitting here writing this it's tight and hot but that's OK.  I am feeling more and more confident that I'm successfully getting over this injury and can make a really push for Grandma's and Whistlestop this year.

Kris:  1:19:55  -  Mark 1:10:35 - (FULL RESULTS HERE)

Next up....Earth Day Half Marathon Relay.   6.65 Miles.....can I go sub-8??  Not going to get my hopes up....but it would be seriously sweet ;)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

First Run Race After Injury....Nervous?

Kris:  A little....

This is the first time in a long time I actually am having pre-race jitters.   I haven't "raced" a race since last October and even then I was starting to feel the IT band injury.   So post wedding marathon, it was two months of no running and then super slow return to mileage.   So this Saturday will be my first attempt to "race" in about 6 months.   #1 I just want to be able to run hard and NOT feel the injury and #2 potentially pull a new PR.

I never thought a new PR would be possible this spring since my running has been so restricted but there might be something to that "less is more" mileage plan.   At least while recovering for me.   My paces have been sub-9:00 for most of my runs and I've been feeling good.   Every run I feel pretty fresh so I'm excited/nervous to see what happens.   It's the Goldy's Run 10-mile.  Pretty flat and I get to try out pacers this time around.

Mark and I have both decided we are going to try to use the pacers in marathon training this year.   Unfortunately I think my ideal pacer pace for Saturday would be 8:15min/mi but they only come in :30 sec intervals.   Last weekend we went for a long run and without pushing myself too hard I think it was fairly clear that trying to stay with the 8:00 group would be much too fast.   But the 8:30 group might be too easy.   To PR, I need to beat my previous PR pace of 8:26 so my plan to go for a new PR but also see what it's like to run in a pace group is to run with the 8:30 group for the first 5 miles and then, provided everything including the left knee/IT is feeling good, I'll break from the pack and rev it up a bit for the second half.

Mark: I am also hopefully will be trying for a PR. Granted my PR for the 10 mile is over three years old, 100% Irish in 2008 and I am a much more experienced runner since then. 2008 was my first full season of running, having run my first race on Thanksgiving of 2007. Since my 10 mile PR, I have run 4 other 10 milers, but the focus has been running with Kris and this will be my first opportunity to try out the legs and see what I can do. McMillian says I can do it in 1:11:33 (based on my 1 mile PR) Not sure I am up to that but I think I can manage a sub 1:15, it might just depend on how I feel on Saturday. This past Saturday when Kris and I were testing our legs I actually set a PR during my training run so I am feeling good going into this weekend.

Like Kris mentioned I am also going to be running with the pacers to start out with, and somewhere in the back of my mind I wonder if that is a true test of what I can do but yesterday the new Runners World showed up in the mail and there was a big article about "Rabbits" who are essentially paces for the elite runners of the world. So if they can do it and set World Records, then I certainly can set a PR with a pacer. Did you know that when Roger Bannister broke the 4:00 minute mile he had two rabbits to help him.

Feedback anyone???   Runners please comment if you have either
  • Come off an injury that had you not running for a few months or
  • Had a good/bad experience with starting to use pace groups to set new PRs.

Monday, April 4, 2011

New Cache Placement - LPC Series

Kris:  Ah, finally almost all the snow is gone and caches are coming free of the ice left and right :D   Mark and I are getting very excited to spend some upcoming weekends out caching.  Plus we've made plans to visit North Dakota and Colorado this year so I'll be adding two states to my map :)

Two weeks ago I placed my cache that is going to be part of the MN LPC Series.  We captured the coordinates on the GPS but then a few days later wiped the memory to upload new information and lost the coordinates.  (Drat.....)  So today we were back out in Waconia, checked on our creative container and grabbed the coordinates again.  I have always gotten a kick out of "skirt lifter" caches and the creation of this series by EP Minnesota has really brought out some fun containers in what is normally a very "film canister filled" environment

And if you would like to claim the prize I refer to in the end of the video.  Please email me at trichick7 (at)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

#Geocache365 - Day 236 - Out with the Team Dogs crew

Kris: Quick find on a beautiful day so we brough Truffle and Journey along to get some fresh air:

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