Mission accomplished: I know where the red wing blackbird nest is.

Today’s walk: 18.4 miles (just under 30 km) in 4:39; I was at 18 in 4:33 and added .4 miles to make sure I got over 18.

Weather: sort of muggy; 71 F, 84 percent humidity at the start; 80 F, 64 percent at the end. It started out overcast and then showered a few times…and had bright sun a few times…all in the same walk.


Route: up Maplewood to Columbia Terrace; Broadway to McClure to Sheridan, at which point I picked up the old Boredom course; which I followed to mile 7 (8 from the House; 2:02) I took the Bike Path (Rock Island; saw a deer there); I followed that route to old Woodruff High School (2:44), at which point I did 2 miles on the track (29:29; 4 laps in lane 2, 4 in lane 1 with a correction) then back (via the Goose Loop; 3:55 at Hooters) to finish in 4:33…but I was worried that it might not be 18 miles so I did a .4 mile loop (past Markin to Bradley Ave.) to get…it turns out..18.4. The map had my original route at 15.99 (without the 2 track miles).


The good: it wasn’t that difficult (and as slow as it was, it shouldn’t have been). This was my best since October 2014.
The bad: well, look at how slow it was; it took the track miles (near mile 11) to perk me up a bit.
The essential: every year, at about this time, the dreaded red winged blackbirds start nesting. There is usually one or two who attack and it is essential to find out where the aggressive one is. I found it:


It was sitting on a sign and attacked me as I went along the sidewalk. Next time: I cross a bit further up; I’ll have to wait for a big break in traffic and maybe run a bit. My goodness, I hate these things:

They are known for attacking:

Sometimes these nasty things merely escort you.

Other thing: well, I wanted to see how my body would hold up to heat. It was…ok; I’d give it a C+ today.

But…do I tray a “fun” 12 hour (goal: 50K hot, 60 km cool) or 24 hour (goal: 50 mile if hot; perhaps 100 km if cool…breaks/naps planned in) in 3 week’s time? I’ll make my decision after next week’s walk, which should be longer (maybe 90 minutes more?)

The reality is that while I stood up well to today’s walk, I felt is “oh so slightly” in the stomach and wonder what shape my stomach would have been given 2-3-4 more hot hours. My intensity was slightly too much to be sustainable.

May 17, 2015 Posted by | ultra, walking | , | Leave a comment

Memories and reality

14 mile walk in 3:34; this was the old Boredom course.


I started at 7:40; I wish I had started 1 hour earlier. Still, it was chilly at the start and just lovely, though auto traffic had picked up on the final third of the course.
I saw one small training group out there and Peggy Shadid as well; she was jogging easily with a friend and a dog. She won the female open Steamboat 15K multiple times as well as MANY other races; I’ve seen her run a 3:04 marathon and a 38 minute 10K.

I told her that I was tempted to turn around and show her up; she and her friend had a good laugh. :-)

The course I did (14 miles) consists of the “middle 10″ miles of the classic Boredom course: (I pick it up at Sheridan and McClure)


But that brought back memories. I first did the Boredom course in the Summer of 1998 when I was taking part of the Illinois Valley Striders marathon training group; in those days the 12 mile course took me about 1:40-1:45 to do (at an easy pace). The 14 took around 2 hours.

In 2003-2005, as a walker, I did the 14 mile course in just under 3 hours (2:56-2:57); that was when I walked a marathon in 4:44, a hilly trail 50K in 7:14, a paved 50K in 6:20 and the 100 mile in 23:40 (101 in 24).
Now I am over half an hour slower with the same effort.

I remind myself of this not to lament the expected degradation of my abilities but to remind myself of where I am so I can set realistic goals.

So, for the October marathon, 5:45 would be a good goal for the marathon walk. Maybe I can aim for 9:30 for the McNotAgain and, if those two events go well…who knows; maybe something special in late December or early January (in a southern climate!).

But a 100 miler isn’t going to happen again, unless I enter a flat 48 hour race and really pace myself, take naps, etc. I simply don’t have another one in me.

So, I can still get out there, go hard and have fun! But, to put it simply, the events I enter ARE going to take me longer and some events in my past are now beyond my reach. But that’s ok; others get to enjoy those now. :-)

April 26, 2015 Posted by | ultra, walking | , , | Leave a comment

Following one’s own advice

Workout notes
swim: 2 x 250 (slower than 5 each), 5 x 100 (fist/free) on the 2:10 (1:53/1:57 each)
4 x 250 on the 5 (4:40, 4:43, 4:47, 4:50 (lazy)), 200 fins (4 x 25 back, 4 x 25 fly)

This was “just swim”.

Advice I follow a lot of people on Facebook, including many runners. And time and time again, I’ve seen someone work up to running a 5K at, say, 8:40 mpm, and then try to move to doing lots of half marathons, marathons, and then attempt an ultra.

All the while, they get slower, slower and slower until it is downright painful to watch them attempt to run.

When I returned to running (1996), I ran for about a year prior to running a half marathon for time (as a 38 year old) and I ran a 1:40 and didn’t injure myself.

So, I kind of “tut-tut” to myself about the mistake I think that the new runners are making….though it is none of my business.

Then I ask myself: WHO is entertaining thoughts of a 12 hour walk this June, given his current is a painfully slow 3:48 walk? Hmmmm?

Yeah, that is the old “I remember doing 100 miles” talking but while the brain and memory is still there, the body isn’t.

BUT, I am on track to be able to train for a walking marathon in October and IF that goes well, 30 miles in November and maybe, just maybe, a paved bike path 50 miler with a 14 hour time limit in late December (Houston, TX) (goal might be to crack 13 hours; I last did that in 2009 during a 24 hour).


I need to get to where a 6-7-8 hour training walk at a relaxed pace is comfortable first. THEN I can entertain such thoughts. I need to follow my own advice.

April 20, 2015 Posted by | swimming, ultra, walking | , , | Leave a comment

Quiz: which is the “earlier in the 24 hour walk” photo?

Workout notes running: I “ran” the park portion (and the “to the park” portion of a my 5.1 Cornstalk Hill course plus an extra 1.23 mile loop. I walked the final mile (run 5.3, walk 1). I didn’t feel sick or tired, but my legs…just nothing there; at all. This was truly a shuffle. My guess: the hill workout I did on Tuesday; I really did that one hard.

Then I lifted: super set of pull ups and Lifefitness rows (4 sets of 10 pull ups, 3 sets of 10 x 110 rows), then military presses (2 sets of 12 x 50 dumbbell, seated, supported), 10 x 85 barbell standing and 2 sets of 5 pull ups to get 50 total.

I did rotator cuff and bench presses (3 sets of 10 x 135, seriously!), 2 sets of 10 x 160 pull downs (traditional), 1 set of 7 traditional, 7 low (100), incline press: 1 x 135, 4 x 135.

This was a bit weird, but once again I gave myself little rest between sets; it was pretty much go-go-go.

I really am not that tired.

Quiz: was it really June 2006 when I did the FANS 24 hour and got 83 miles?

One of these was taken at about mile 20; the other at about mile 75. Which was which? :-)

April 17, 2015 Posted by | running, ultra, walking | | Leave a comment

Perceptions and where I’ve lived (of interest mainly to me)

This is an interesting post from the New York Times; it is called “Where are the Hardest Places to Live”:

Annie Lowrey writes in the Times Magazine this week about the troubles of Clay County, Ky., which by several measures is the hardest place in America to live.

The Upshot came to this conclusion by looking at six data points for each county in the United States: education (percentage of residents with at least a bachelor’s degree), median household income, unemployment rate, disability rate, life expectancy and obesity. We then averaged each county’s relative rank in these categories to create an overall ranking.

(We tried to include other factors, including income mobility and measures of environmental quality, but we were not able to find data sets covering all counties in the United States.)

You can see the map:

Screen shot 2014-11-17 at 8.14.53 PM

Click on the link to see the interactive map at the New York Times. There you can click on the individual counties.
I clicked on Peoria County and was shocked to see it rated 1284 out of 3135 (upper 41 percent). I was genuinely surprised to see it rate as well as it did. So I decided to look at the other counties I’ve lived in as an adult…and it became clear to me:

Anne Arundel 180 (Annapolis, MD)
Bexar: 1220 (San Antonio, TX)
Escambia 1726 (Pensacola, FL)
Orange: 930 (Orlando, FL)
Saratoga 129 (Balston Spa, NY)
New London: 304 (Groton, CT)
Travis: 146 (Austin, TX)
Peoria: 1284 (Peoria, IL)

I admit to being a bit surprised that Escambia rated as low as it did; I rather liked it there. But for the most part, I’ve lived in highly rated places prior to moving to Peoria.

Speaking of going places: what states have I visited, lived, finished a marathon or longer, or saw a college or professional football game?

Been to (though in Alaska’s case, it was just the airport)

Screen shot 2014-11-17 at 7.35.46 PM

Lived in (6 months or longer)

Screen shot 2014-11-17 at 7.37.15 PM

Finished a marathon or longer in:

Screen shot 2014-11-17 at 7.38.50 PM

California: 2002 San Diego Marathon
Utah: 2003 Park City Marathon
Texas: various (1981 San Antonio, 2004, 2005, 2007 Ultra Centric 24, 2006 Houston Ultra 24)
Illinois (various: McNaughton 100 2005, 2009, Quad Cities Marathon several, Rockford, Peoria, Chicago 50K, marathon, etc.)
Iowa: 2000 Lake Okoboji Marathon, 2004 Cornbelt hour (101 miles), 2002, 2005 Fairfield Trail Runs 50K
Missouri: 2003 Quivering Quad 50K
Indiana: 2000 Indianapolis marathon
Maryland: 1980 Maryland Marathon
Connecticut: 1983 East Lyme Marathon
Oklahoma: 2005, 2007 Andy Payne Marathon
Alabama: 2002 Rocket City Marathon
Wisconsin: 2001 Lake Geneva Marathon, Ice Age 50K 2003, 2006
Minnesota: FANS 24 hour: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011
South Dakota: 2005 Lean Horse 100

Note: I started the Little Rock Marathon in 2004 but swallowed a DNF at mile 23.

Screen shot 2014-11-17 at 7.43.52 PM

Watched a college or pro football game in:

California: 1983 Rams vs. Falcons (also saw a 1962 Browns vs. 49’ers game though I was too young to remember any of it)

Colorado: 1980 Navy vs. Air Force

Texas: various; 9 seasons of University of Texas football, a couple of Texas State (then Southwest Texas) games, a Cowboys vs. 49’ers game, several Cotton Bowls and an Alamo Bowl

Alabama: 2012 Go Daddy Bowl (Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois)

Iowa: 1993 Iowa vs. Miami, Florida game

Michigan: 2002 Michigan vs. Penn State

Indiana: two Notre Dame vs. Purdue games (1991, 1995), Notre Dame vs. Navy in 1979.

Maryland: 4 seasons of Navy football, Baltimore Colts vs. Broncos in 1983 and saw a USFL game

Virginia: 1983 Navy vs. Virginia

Massachusetts: several Patriot games in 1983 and 1984

Missouri: several St. Louis Rams games

Florida: Tampa vs. Washington NFL in 1982 (saw a USFL game too)

New Jersey: Navy vs. Notre Dame in 1984, Texas vs. Penn State in 1984, Navy vs. Houston in 1980

Pennsylvania: Army vs. Navy in Philadelphia 1977-1980.

Ohio: Baldwin Wallace vs. Bluffton 2014

Illinois: various (4 seasons of Illinois, plus assorted single games, 2 seasons of Illinois State, a couple of Eureka games, and the Bears vs. Tampa Bay 1993)

November 18, 2014 Posted by | basketball, marathons, NFL, politics/social, running, ultra, walking | , , , | Leave a comment

Sore glutes

Workout notes easy 5K run on the treadmill in 32:25. It took about 11 minutes for the first mile; I didn’t feel great at first but felt better as it went on.
Toward the end I had to tell myself to stop.

Then 10 minutes on the bike (easy) and some weightless squats, McKenzie, etc.

My glutes are sore; evidently my butt wasn’t strong enough to handle all of those steep hills on Saturday. So, I think that I know what to do; sure I’ll have to run and walk some hills, but during the snowy months I’ll have to do some steep stuff (stair master? Jacob’s Ladder?) and lunges. I have to be intentional.

November 10, 2014 Posted by | bicycling, running, ultra | , | Leave a comment

A note about my whining and self critiques (in sports)

Workout notes I was stiff as a board this morning, but a weight workout plus back exercises loosened me up.

Pull ups: 5 sets of 10; I did hip hikes, Achilles, and weightless squats in between.
Bench: 135 x 10, 180 x 2, 170 x 4 (weak, did rotator cuff in between)
incline: 135 x 7, 135 x 10. rotator cuff, weightless squats
military (dumbbell), 7 x 45, 10 x 40, 10 x 40 (squats: 2 sets of 5 x 45, very low)
one arm rows: 3 sets of 10 x 65
pull downs: 3 sets of (7 x 160 traditional, 7 x 100 low)
Hammer rows: 2 sets of 10 x 200.

I felt a lot better afterward; sometimes, the thing to do is to just get moving.

Self critique and whining

Let me make this clear at the outset: I am very grateful that I have the health and the means to do sports. I can train, do races, afford the races and afford good running shoes; my trail shoes helped me immensely. I had a good grip while on the trail.

We have good people both to compete with and to hold the race.

So, I enjoy my hobby and would miss it if I couldn’t do it.

But I still critique my performances. One reason: it is still a support; it is still a race. I want to beat as many competitors as I can…though yesterday I was DEAD LAST.

I also like to think that I am doing the best that I can.

So, about yesterday: my lap times (2:52, 3:11, 3:51; 9:54 total) were horribly slow (even for a walk), though the last one was hampered by my having to use a headlight. In the past (2009) these were 2:38, 2:49, 3:27 (got sick) on the same course, albeit in the “usual” direction. In 2004, I did the first 30 in 7:03 (almost 3 hours faster!) en route to a 12:46 50 mile finish. But: well, in 2004 and again in 2009, I had 100 mile finishes and “fast” walking marathons. And, these were 5 and 10 years ago. Time takes its toll.

But I don’t want to settle for less than I am capable of. So, on one hand, it is foolish to think that I can average 2:20 again. On the other hand, is it unrealistic to think that I can work toward averaging sub 3 hour loops?

It is the Serenity Prayer isn’t it: acceptance of what I can’t change, courage to change what I can and THE WISDOM TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.

Where to go from here: I am getting ideas about working toward the 50 mile at McNaughton Park (Potawatomi Trail Runs); they give you a 34 hour time limit. My target time would be 18 hours, because…I thought that I was capable of doing at least one more 4 hour loop yesterday.

BUT: I have to increase my quad strength and practice doing at least a little bit of jogging.

Note: here is a list of my McNaughton Park races and some early race reports. I’ll add to that a couple of DNF reports (50 mile, 30 mile) and yesterday’s adventure).

The wildcard: mud. That can play havoc with my knees. My knees were fine yesterday, as the course was dry.

November 9, 2014 Posted by | ultra, walking, weight training | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dead F*****g Last, but…

Well, I started the McNaughtAgain 30 mile trail run; I walked the whole way. I finished….Dead Last Place. I was last from the get-go and stayed there.

1. I did finish; I was unable to do that last year. I did it 2 minutes “faster” in 2011 (but with the early start, did not finish in darkness) and 1 hour faster in 2009 (more marathons, a 100, etc.)

2. I didn’t get sick nor did I break at any point. Ok, much of that was due to my slow pace, which started slow and got slower:

2:52/3:12/3:50 = 9:54.

3. The social part was fun.

For one, race director Michael Siltman (an accomplished ultra runner) does a bang up job and recruits great volunteers. There are volunteers who know what you are going through and what you need.

Also they treat everyone with respect, from the fleet afoot (e. g. the dozen or so runners who lapped me) to….well…me. When I finished I said “you can go home now! And they yelled “The party is just starting”.

And the people there are just fun to be with. I got to talk to Julia Carrel (who unfortunately turned an ankle). Mardi Kleinschmidt and Crystal Kyle.

Mardi showed me her Marine Corps Marathon photos and emphasized the fundraising events for wounded veterans. It was very touching. While I was talking to Mardi, Crystal playfully grabbed my back and used me as a stretching post. I had to chuckle.

As far as my race: first of all, the course was as good as it gets; soft dirt but no mud. There were leaves that covered potential ankle twisting objects such as foots and rocks.

I started slowly and tried to take my ego out of it. That meant that by the time I got 3 miles into it, I was, well, solo as I’d remain the entire way, save the multiple times the sub 6 hour 30 mile runners lapped me. There was one that was kind of weird; I heard some LOUD female voices..laughing…and there was this older guy in a line of 4 runners; 3 female. I couldn’t tell whether they were just getting miles or if they were escorting a runner on the third lop; I do know at least 3 of them were WAY too perky to have gone 22-23 race miles.

But other wise, it was just me, and the very nice, patient aid station volunteers.

Psychologically: well, I kept the effort in check, but my lap 1 to lap 2 slow down depressed me. I was 1:22 half way (at the bridge) in lap 1, 1:30 in lap 2, and 1:51 at lap 3 (still daylight). My legs have no power on the hills, and I took the trails very gingerly; I didn’t want to twist something.

I took Succeed tablets every hour or so…and had boiled potatoes and corn chips at the home aid station; I also had a mini wrap and a banana the first time. Hence I never got sick. I got tired and my legs ached, but I didn’t get sick.

When I got back, I checked out the scores. Texas: pleasant surprise. Notre Dame: no so pleasant. Baylor: called that. Minnesota creaming Iowa: did NOT call that. WTF? I suppose Minnesota had some time to process the loss to Illinois and took it out on Iowa.
Currently: watching TCU vs. Kansas State. Frogs up 17-7 at the half.

November 9, 2014 Posted by | marathons, ultra, walking | , , | 2 Comments

Keys to finishing

1. Easy first lap. Expend as little energy as possible. Keep the ego in check; this isn’t 2003-2005. Don’t run too much (if at all) on lap 1.
2. Keep moving on lap two; that might be the most difficult.
3. Keep moving. Only drop out if there is orthopedic pain (knees).

Today: finishing is success. Period. Save the time goals for the shorter races.

November 8, 2014 Posted by | marathons, running, ultra, walking | | Leave a comment

On getting “Girled” or “Chicked”…..


The following Facebook meme made me chuckle. I’ve heard it called “getting girled”. Basically: this is what happens when a male track team member gets beaten by a female.

In sports like swimming and track and field (e. g. “athletics”, which includes running and race walking), this concept really only makes sense for the stronger male competitors.

There WAS a time in my life when, on rare occasion, I might finish ahead of the first female. This only happened at small, local races. It isn’t that much of a surprise; after all, if one looks at the results of high school track meets, sometimes, in a dual meet between small schools, the girl’s mile is won in a time over 5:30. That is a time I could run…a long time ago. So could many other in shape “workout bros”.

But now that I’ve gotten older, when one takes into account age and sex, I can compete on even terms with females in the 36-40 year old age group. Hence my natural advantage is gone and I don’t even think about trying to mix it up with the faster women; about the only time I notice them is when they are cooling down on the course and I am finishing up.

Frequently, even the older ladies beat me (example:)


Now sometimes, a woman will show up at a local race and beat everyone; this happened at the Galesburg Half Marathon in June 2012.

And in the longer events: ultra walker Sandra Brown has frequently beaten the entire field in a 24 hour walk; she did that in 2004 at the Wandelweekend in the Netherlands.
That was merely one of many “outright victories” for her.

In ultra swimming: Peggy Lee Dean and Lynn Cox both held the human record for the English Channel Crossing (at one time).

But in the vast majority of races where there are no outliers (e. g., an elite showing up at a non-elite race), the male winning time will be better than the female winning time.

And the concept of getting “girled” or “chicked” has never applied to me in running, walking or swimming. I simply am not good enough for it to have ever mattered.

Now in the weight room: When it comes to pull ups and, say, the bench press, there are women who can exceed what I do but they tend to be outliers (e. g. perhaps a shot putter at a Division I university would out bench me…and I mean “real” bench pressing, not that “bench shirt” stuff). And plenty of women can do more pull ups than I can (think: gymnasts) but they also tend to be moderate outliers; you tend to not see them at the places where I work out. You’d see them at gyms that cater to the more athletic crowd.

April 17, 2014 Posted by | running, ultra, walking, weight training | , | Leave a comment


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