Monday, December 5, 2011

Run with a Jolt?

I have added a couple of short jogs to my workout schedule, mostly as a warmup for the stretching core strength exercises which I now do after each run. Another beneficiary of these early morning activities is Mellie, who loves going for a run with the master, especially when it includes some off-leash time.

As the weather has turned colder and the sidewalks slipperier for my faithful canine companion and me, we had a strange adventure on the Snelling Ave bridge S of the Fair Grounds. It started when Mellie yipped in pain and anguish as we were heading north across the bridge, just after crossing the first BNSF tracks. I was jure I hadn't stepped on her toes, which sometimes happens when she inadvertantly runs into my path. She was really disturbed and kept looking over her shoulder. A few days later we were closing in on that spot from the north and as we were approaching she started to be nervous. She yipped again, this time I saw it clearly: she stepped on a large metal plate covering a bridge expansion joint. In my mind there must be an electric current in that plate.

We ran across the bridge on the opposite sidewalk, albeit she was nervous she did not cry out. This morning we came from the north again and while she was a little scared she did not seem to feel anything. I'm guessing that the snow-deicer mix probably grounds the plate and disperses most of the current. I am going to take my volt meter out there to check it out. I am chronicling my training on a website frequented by my orienteering club mates (Attackpoint). One of them, Todd, read my log and replied with a link to a Strib article form 2009 mentioning that some light-post-watering pooches were rudely jolted when doing so in Minneapolis. The city started an effort to check light posts for faulty wiring and eliminated further canine sterilization by electrocution. I will be keeping a close eye on that particular spot and figure out whom to let know about this.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

First Ski of the Season!

This Sunday we got to do what we had been waiting for a long time, we got to take advantage of the 10 cm of fresh snow (measured in my back yard) and head for Highland 9-Hole for our first time on skis and in harness. While the park was uniformly white, but the tracks showed grass. Thus, it was good that I had picked my old Landsem Telemark Touring with the big Asolo backcountry boots for this outing. Using the heavy things were not that good for technique but they sure as heck were good to build some strength, sort of like skiing with dumbels strapped to your feet. The forecast does not look that great for additional snow but since the temps will be dropping to about -15 C and staying below freezing for the foreseeable future, the little we have should last us some time.
First time out, trying to tame a black dog who appears to have
had too much black coffee ...

We did not see many other dogs but there were quite a few smiling skiers. Since trails had not been groomed we did our best to reconstruct our customary lap by following the tracks of skiers who preceded us and breaking our own trails. we did this two times and in spite of my weekly Sisu group I was sore from the workout. And I had the honor to file the first trail report of the season for Highland 9-Hole at!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

First Ride to New Work Location in Minnetonka

Well, this last weekend our company finally made the big move from way out in Maple Grove to out in Minnetonka. I had been studying and discussing bike options for this new location, it definitely was now within reach of me, as a casual biker and occasional bike commuter. And since the weather was not too shabby I needed to get this out of my system before the beginning of winter.

Great route along Minneapolis Greenway and Cedar Lake Trail. It must be about 70% on bike trails! Will verify this, though. All in all a much easier ride than going to Thomson Reuters in Eagan, even though it is a couple of miles longer. No significant hills at all! That's good and bad: a lower barrier to actually doing the ride but less of a training effect.

Issues for my first ride:

1. Went into the neighborhood off W River Road and needed to carry my bike up a flight of stairs. Next time I'll stay on River Road right up to the trail head.
2. After Lake Calhoun I should have hopped onto Dean Blvd for a shortcut. Instead I followed the Greenway to the intersection with Kenwirth Trail.
3. Stopped at Victoria Rd. to check my chicken scratches. I was right on.
4. Ice-cold feet. Need to invest in some shoe covers. Maybe a plastic baggie around my running shoes?
5. The dark was not an issue, my bike light was plenty bright, as was the street and trail lighting.

Interesting to see how many cyclists were out, I crossed and passed fewer than a couple dozen. A few joggers and folks walking their dogs, too. Cedar Lake Trail goes through along BNSF railroad with overgrown easement and through some wetlands, which is very nice.

After work I went back via the Mill City District and the Stone arch Bridge. I appreciated the stiff back wind, especially when seeing how hard the cyclists heading homeward from Minneapolis were working. The trail was very easy to find, within 30 minutes I was at the new Twins stadium. The first time I needed to stop after getting on Cedar lake trail was when I hit the river.

Again smooth riding, across the Stone Arch Bridge and then onto SE Main Street. I must have missed my turn for all of a sudden I found myself on a railroad service road. There was a squad car parked a little further down and fully expected to be turned back, but the officers paid me no heed. So I continued, crossing Dinkytown below street level and re-emerging onto fifth street behind the Ridder Arena. I stopped shortly at the Gopher Football Stadium to see if Lynn might be in her office. She wasn't, so I continued.

After I got my big light on I merged into the heavy bike traffic on the UMN Transit Way and was home in another 10 minutes. This seems to be the route of choice for a quick commute to work, barely more than an hour, admittedly with a lot of help from the strong westerly wind.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Arctic Commando Trail Run 2011

For the last three years I have been looking forward to the Arctic Commando Trail Run. "Arctic Commandos" is the nickname of St. Paul Central Sr. High Schools XC Ski Team and for the last four years they have been conducting a trail race at Battle Creek West in which I have participated every year. Since I started blogging, I wrote about it, too (see here). Outside of orienteering I do not participate in any sanctioned running events except for this trail run. I like the low-key atmosphere, the absence of crowds and the challenging terrain. In the past, the 5k loosely followed the ski trails at Battle Creek, occasionally switching to the single-track MTB trails. This year, the Sisu Nordic Ski Foundation worked hard at pulling a sanctioned event to this location and the 2.5 km and 5 km loops were homologated by the International Ski Federation and by the US Ski and Snowboard Association and the runners followed the new loops, benefiting from an additional 20 m of climb. (Ben Popp of Sisu said during last Thursday's Year Round Group that Doing 50k (or 10 laps) at Battle Creek at m will trump the Birkie's 1188 m easily with its 1900 m of climb, though I do not know whether I'd want to do 10 laps of anything, hills or no hills.

Off we go on this beautiful late fall day.
(Photo courtesy of  Ed Swain, available at
It looked like a good crowd again, a new record, according to co-organizer John Kendrick. It's good to see so many young kids participating in physical activity. We lined up across a wide open area just before the finish, as always slightly chaotic. And off we were. One guy took off like a rocket, he ended up winning, a good 7 minutes ahead of me. There were the usual suspects, athletes younger and/or faster than myself, that started to build a distance between me and them. I passed John, with whom I had a friendly rivalry over the previous years. Until now I had been able to keep him at bay.

Working hard to keep the next generation and some competitors closer to my
own age at bay (Photo courtesy of  Ed Swain, available at
One guy passed me confidently on the slight incline early on in the race. I let him go but caught up with him on the next hill. we stayed together on the down hill and when, approaching the next upward slope I heard him mutter "what, another hill?" I knew he wasn't going to be serious competition, since this was just the third out of seven or eight serious climbs. During the next climb, one of the young 2-milers challenged me. He looked like 10 and when I checked the results, he turned out to be eleven. We ran together till the split, he having the advantage climbing and me, taking it back on the downhills, thanks to my longer legs. He will doubtlessly have a career in xc running and track, a talented athlete.

I did the initial 2.5 km at a 4:34 pace, then I stared slowing down and that's when John K overtook me. I could not keep up and regretfully had to let him go. I finished in 26:06, with a pace of 4:58. As usual during peak efforts like this I started suffering from a runny nose. But it felt good to have participated, Improving my pace over that of previous years, in spite of the added climb and the slightly longer course. If there was a regret, it was not having Colin's (my older son) classmates cheering me on from the sidelines. They have all graduated from Central ...

The results are available at, as are a series of photos of the event.

Link to all Arctic Commando trail runs.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lake Maria Orienteering Meet, Red Course

I don't generally get disheartened with my blunders during O races, but this time I did. I had few if any problems on the well-laid-out course at Lake Maria SP until I got to CP11.

On the long leg to CP11 I had decided to play it safe and run the last portion on the trail a little NE of the connecting line. I chose the man-made feature (a bench) at the T intersection/clearing as my attack point. When I got there I made the decision to follow the trail west and to attack from where the trail veers from NW to due W. I think this may have been my main mistake. As it often happens, it was hard to tell where exactly the trail veered west and of course, I did not find the wetland withe CP 11. I made matters worse by searching for about 10 minutes until I finally gave up and returned to the intersection with park bench. Now I took a careful bearing and walked straight to the CP, which took exactly 2 minutes.

My self-confidence badly shaken by my search for CP11, I was probably overly cautious when heading for CP12. I wanted to be sure I took the right approach and hesitated to take the path towards the road. When I finally started moving down, I had to stop at a tight spot to let a group of about a dozen horseback riders pass. I found the CP without much further ado but decided to see if the wetland to the N was crossable. It was not, given the thick vegetation this was another few minutes lost.

My last blunder was on the home stretch. After punching CP14, I did not take a careful bearing (not that it had to be very careful) and ended up on the trail moving almost due W from the Finish. Instead of heading home, I took the opposite direction. This was definitely my worst run of the year.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Orienteering: Minnegoat at Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

I went to bed at a reasonable time but ended waking up at 1:30, tossing and turning till about 4:00. The 5 AM alarm chased me out of bed and after some coffee, a breakfast of leftover Thai and a banana/protein shake I hit the road. The farther north I got, the wetter it got. By the time I reached Onamia a fine drizzle was falling.

Start and finish were at the horse camp a few trailers were there and things were just getting going. The MNOC members who had spent the nigh were gearing up and others, like me, were arriving.The first guy I saw was Andrei, he was still in shorts and flipflops. He had don the day 1 races and warned me that the terrain was quite technical, but also that the woods were open and runnable.

The half hour between my arrival and the pre-race meeting went by fast. A couple of labs around the parking lot and some stretches and we were lining up at the start. Apparently the organizers were a little worried over having enough maps for everyone. Extra benefit of doing the online registration: getting in line first to get dibs on a map, welded into plastic no less.

But there were maps for everyone and when the countdown was over, everyone picked up their map and the mad dash for this mass start began. Even by CP1, the crowd had started to stretch out and there was hardly a wait to punch. Mass starts do invariably cause some small groups to form. I was with Todd Peterson, Pete Wentzel, Chris Svoboda from Chicagoland and another couple guys for a while. Pete dropped us at CP6 or so and a guy whose name I do not know fell in a deep mud hole between CP9 and 10. It was one of the very few stretches where one could actually gain some by following a trail for a couple hundred meters. For inexplicable reasons he was a few meters off the trail as we crossed what looked like a dry creek bed. He sunk up to his hip and followed up with a nice belly flop. Man, am I glad that wasn't me. I arrived at the map exchange together with Todd, a Canadian fellow and the Chicagoan. I took a few sips of water, a nip of nut bar and off I went, deciding to leave my hydration pack behind. I went with the Canadian for a while and lost him someplace. Todd and Chris passed me. I found myself alone, especially after I did the one permitted skip from 7 straight to nine.

By now I started regretting that I had not taken more time at the map exchange to eat some more and to take the water along. I was running low on fuel and I felt it. I reached CP10 together with Todd, who had skipped 9. Since Todd runs better than me, I assume that I made a good choice skipping CP7.

I did not even try to match Todd's pace and instead concentrated on not making any mapping errors. Everything went well till I was closing in on CP13. Somehow I misread the map thinking that the small wetland was on top of a hill. That's where I looked for at least 5 minutes, losing precious time. I revisited the map and finally noticed the depression indicators. What a bummer. I have to face the music and get the magnifier for my Moscompass. I saw Chris S waving his bifocal running glasses at me when they were fogging up and Julia, who wears flip-ups on a pair of racquetball goggles told me about the fogging, too.

The rest was a breeze, I am very glad I made it!

Some final thoughts:

I thought that the course layout was excellent. As mentioned above, there was hardly ever a way to follow trails, streams, even contours. The terrain provided handrails in form of the many wetlands, but they were varied enough to keep me on my toes. I do prefer the regular O format but I do understand that with a long event like a goat it would take forever.

Results: 9th of 15, 2:47:40, see also MNOC 2011 Minnegoat Results

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sisu Year-Round Group: Bounding and Resistance Plyos

SISU Weekly Updates

When:  Tuesday Oct 4th, 6:30pm  
Where: Battle Creek Rec Center
What: Dryland- Bounding/Resistance Plyos
Coaches: Mike Nightingale Kevin Brochman

I was holding off till the very last moment on making the decision on whether or not to participate today. After seeing Dr. Abraham last week I was not so much concerned about my knee but rather about the sprained toe joint which still hurt some. I decided that it was feasible and was glad I did so.

With temps around 25 C and not a cloud in the sky it was a gorgeous fall night for a workout. Coach Mike had been replaced with Kevin Brochman, head coach at Roseville Area High Schools. As I mentioned before, it is always good to be exposed to different training methods and pick up a new exercise or do a drill in just slightly different a way to make it more effective. It was the case again tonight, too. Except for warm-up and cool-down, all drills took place on the sledding hill next to the Battle Creek rec Center.
  • Short warm-up jog 
  • Nordic walking, emphasis on moving hip forward and bending rear leg
  • Bounding, emphasis on raising knees 
  • Skate bounding side to side with balancing, emphasizing to swing foot slightly forward of planted foot, simulating arm motion
  • cross-over drill (cross fore-arms up, push off-arms back)
  • Cool down nordic walk
A good medium-intensity workout and no significant issues with my knees or toe. I think I am ready to return to training!
I followed up this workout with an easy run on Thursday morning just to confirm that I can tackle the Minnegoat on Sunday.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Injury Woes

You think you are in relatively decent shape and your training expands in new directions. You start toying with the idea to maybe enter one of the longer xc-ski events, you turn 50 and think that there are a few people that age out there who are less fit then you ... and reality check.

This all started with a nagging ache in my left knee which I contracted this spring while out for my first significant bike ride. The pain was low-grade, did not bother me while running, it was just there, in the background. I finally caved and went to see my trusty exercise physician, Dr. Abraham at HP Como. She prodded, pulled and twisted my limb and declared that it was nothing serious. At one point during the exam she exclaimed "oh my, are you ever stiff and inflexible." She offered PT as an option and prescribed flexibility exercises. I declined the PT but started doing a 10-15 minute stretching routine after every workout. The results were amazing, the pain that had persisted for almost three months vanished within 3-4 weeks. 

My exercise regimen kicked into high gear. Sisu ski group, slow and long runs, tempo runs intervals and fartlek, and, while in Europe, some serious hills. I had thought for a while to add a strength workout my exercise program and tried out a boot camp at the Edina YMCA. My muscles were very sore after the first class I took on Labor Day. I took it appropriately easy during that week, did an orienteering race where I contracted some nasty heel blisters but went back to boot camp on the next Monday. 

I don't know whether I was still too tired from the O-meet or whether I am simply not fit enough to start a new exercise clase but after the second boot camp, I did not experience sore muscles but sore knees. Both sides seemed swollen and there was a definite feeling of instability and some popping in the right knee. What a bummer. I followed the RICE principles and rested, iced, elevated and when engaging in activity, I compressed. Since that right knee seemed a little more serious, I also made another appointment with Dr. Abraham. I went running only a few times, fortunately Sisu Year-Round Group was on a roller skiing portion of the schedule which was not as hard on my knee. Things seemed to not get any better and I waited till the 9/24 to make up my mind on doing the Intertstate Park O Meet. But I did it, opting for the shorter choice and also doing the white/yellow course. The knee felt ok but I did contract a new injury, a sprained toe joint which I contracted when my foot got wedged between two rocks, forcing the big to into hyper-extension.

Unitl my appointment on Thursday of that week, my knee felt actually better, it may just have been overshadowed by the pain in the big toe. Again, Dr. Abraham ended up saying that my knee issue did not seem to be too serious. Same directions as the previous time, listening to the knee, and working on strengthening the muscles around it, especially the m. vastus medialis which she found to be "mushy."

I went for a good roller ski workout this last Sunday, since the rigid boot protects my toe, which is still smarting. I am wondering if I'll be able to do the Minnegoat. If I am smart, should probably only do the short one. We'll see ...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Interstate Park Adventure Run--Short

Had been thinking long and hard about participating. My right knee was still making funny noises and I had an appointment set up with Dr. Abraham at HP Como. Should I really risk messing it up even more? I had not done anything in 10 days except some roller skiing during my Sisu class. But I decided it would be worth a try and as a compromise I would do the short distance instead.

The drive out to St. Croix Falls and the Wisconsin side of Interstate Park was uneventful, traffic was less than would be expected on a weekend where the fall colors were nearing their peak. This was making me think that our canoe trip in mid-October would again be in more drab surroundings. Oh well, at least I would be enjoying the leaves today.

After I arrived I had already second thoughts on making the right decision on the short run. Instead of switching to long, I did the whit/yellow course as a warm-up. No problems, not even with my knee. I finished with some stretches and waited for the start.

The adventure run format is basically an O-race with a mass start. At the pre-race meeting Todd Peterson told us about the intricacies of the not-quite-O map and we were off. As I was heading for CP1, I passed Ian, who was walking because of an Achilles-tendon issue. He was walking and I was running but somehow I could not lose him. This shows what a superior orienteerer he is over me.  CPs 2-5presented only slight to moderate difficulty though I managed to hit a barbed wire with my shin (thanks to the gods for gaiters) while dropping into the valley after CP3 and I stepped into a hole after CP5, weding my foot between two rocks and spraining my left big toe in a bad way.

Slightly of kilter from the pain in my right shin and my left toe I headed for CP6, which seemed more difficult than the previous ones. I did find CP6, but then, going for 7 I made my big mistake of the meet: I headed north, looking for the trail I should cross. I missed it and ended up at the bridge across the creek heading out of the wetland. I decided to go for the trail crossing the wetland to retrieve CP7. I met a guy and a father-son team who were coming towards me. I e-punched 7 and passed both again. In hindsight, what I should have probably done is to head south to County S and follow it NE to the trailhead. After I recovered I knew full well that I missed my chance to beat Ian. He arrived a few minutes before me and was just telling the folks at the finish how even crippled by injury and walking he had beaten a runner.  He is right, my results were nothing to call home about.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Orienteering at Chester Woods Park, Eyota, MN

Brand-new map in Chester Woods Park, near Eyota, MN, less than 20 miles E of Rochester. On a gorgeous Saturday morning I drove down there from the cities. Quite a few MNOC runners made it down here, from the looks of it a few were camping here, too. I chatted with Andrei about his August packed with a trip to Utah (hiking), South Dakota and Wyoming (orienteering). The pictures posted on FB were gorgeous and made me want to go.

After gearing up, I ambled to the start and got going. To get to CP1, it looked like I needed to round the northern arm of the lake. I am saying "it looked like" because there is a bridge from the first parking lot inside the park. I noticed the bridge where the park road goes along the lake and I even remembered having seen it when entering the park, but by then I felt it was a wash to return or continue on around the lake. In hindsight, I should have checked the map again and returned, I think I cut have cut a couple hundred meters from my first leg. Other than that, CP 1, 2, 3 and 4 did not present any challenge.

Andrei, who had started behind me caught up at CP4 and went straight up the hill where I decided to follow the trail, making a hairpin turn and climbing more gradually. I followed the left fork of the trail till where it exited the dark green on the map. here, I followed the vegetation boundary and got to CP5 without too much delay. I rejoined the trail, missing the remnants of another trail heading straight for CP6. I eventually found the trail and went straight for the CP, passing it a couple of times without seeing it. This is probably the one place where I lost most time. Instead of looking for the overgrown trail, I might have been better off to follow the contours N from the open area. but who knows, the woods were pretty thick here, too.

I also wasted some time at CP7, but not too much. CP 8, 9 and 10 weren't too difficult either. It was exhausting but also pretty cool to run through the prairie, with grasses higher by a few inches than my 6 ft towards CP9, a very obvious single tree. I might have been better off following the trail closing in and coming back out. Again, hard to tell. CP11 did not present any navigational challenges either but again, the last stretch through "open" terrain was the hardest. Here, very tall yellow flowers probably Jerusalem artichokes grew even taller than 2 m grasses I had encountered earlier. The understory was formed by some kind of golden rod, in keeping with the theme of yellow and green. More striking even than the the yellow were a few blotches of blue, soapwort or closed gentian. The air was filled by the buzzing of many bees and other insects and butterflies were lazily fluttering through the sun-heated air. All of this impeded my progress but delighted my senses.

CP12 and 13 were easy, this time I DID take the foot bridge. CP14 and15 weren't that difficult either, but I was slowing down. I had not worn my Inov-8 Mudclaws since the spring and, together with the thick socks I was wearing they started two nasty heel blisters.

All in all, I am glad that I did not completely mess up any of the CPs. One of the advantages taking it a little easier on tempo, but probably also a testament to the somewhat easier course.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sisu Year-Round Group: S-K-I-Hab Workout Series at United Hospital

When:  Tuesday Sept 6th, 7:00pm  
Where:  United Hospital (Map)
What: Injury Prevention, Flexibility, Core
Coaches: Dr. Chris Leisz and PT's

Coach Ben organized this session with Sister Kenny Institute's Running and Endurance Sports Injury Clinic for all Sisu year-rounders. After a brief intro by Dr. Marie-Christine Leisz, she and the PT staff of the institute led us through a series of xc-skiing-specific stretches and core strengthening exercises.

As I mentioned yesterday, I was mighty sore from the Y boot camp and was happy tor the guided stretching session.

Stretches included some very easy to execute and rather effective ones including

  • Piriformis
  • Quadratus lumborum
  • Towel Roll Snow Angel (shoulder, mid- and lower back)
  • Feldenkrais shoulder circle (that stretch is a gas)
  • Kneeling hip flexor (works quads, too)
  • Soleus Stretch (from lunge position)
Core strength exercises included
  • Core Stabilization stomach
  • Prone Goalpost (to work muscles that pull shoulder blades together)
  • Alligator push-ups
  • Side-lying plank
  • Side-lying single-leg lift
  • Star hops
  • Theraband pull-down (this one added to my sore muscles, a new group)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Boot Camp, Labor Day 2011

I had wanted to start some strengthening exercises for some time and somehow I had never gotten around to kick this off. One idea was to sign up for the weight room orientation at the Midway YMCA and then put together a program of XC skiing specific exercises. The other thought was to join one of the Ys strength or cardio/strength oriented classes. The Boot Camp in particular intrigued me, however the times at my local Y did not accommodate my schedule. I was looking for a class very early in the morning and, if not at the Midway Y, not too far out of my way to work. So I systematically checked all the metro locations and found a possibility at the Southdale YMCA in Edina. They have a 6:00 AM class on Mondays and a 5:15 class on Wednesdays. The Labor Day holiday class had been moved to 8:00 AM, a good opportunity to check it out.

The Y advertises its Boot Camp exercise class as a rugged workout to improve strength and stamina. It appeared that the sequence of exercises would work on both the explosive muscle movements and my respiratory and cardio capacity. Coach Ben later confirmed that this type of workout is an excellent complement to my training plan.

I left the house with what I thought some time to spare, unfortunately I got to the back side of the Edina Y and had to snake my way around the neighborhood to make it to the entrance. I missed my chance to check in with Tom, the instructor and struggled to get ready by assembling my collection of weights, mats and other miscellany.

The warm-up consisted of a serious of running exercises like carioca steps, high heels, high knees and on all fours across the gym including a push-up, and jump sequence at the change of direction and holding light hand weights all the while.  We cycled through the drills three times.

Then the main body of the class began. Using a barbell, we went from deadlift to shoulder press to behind the neck press and back, 15 reps, followed by push-ups, a jumping exercise and an ab exercise. We cycled through this sequence three times, 10 and 5 repetitions after the initial 15. The we increased the weight on the bar bell and did the sequence again, increasing weights and sequence one more time.

The last sequence was a circuit of jumping jacks/push-ups, running in place while tapping a punching ball and another jump sequence.

I was drenched within 15 minutes of this and, not being the most coordinated of people, I had trouble with some of the motion and step/kick sequences. My fear that the unaccustomed motions and exercises would result in some seriously sore muscles did  come true, similar to after the Sisu Year Round Group's first session. I scheduled easy jogs for the remainder of the week and Sisu's session with Sister Kenny Institute's Dr. Leisz and PTs came at an opportune moment.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Long Workouts

After the last reviewing my last benchmark results Coach Ben complained that my work concentrated too much on mid range effort at the expense of base line and the high end work. Since then, I have been increasing my distance for those low-intensity long workouts. Until now, my long runs were 10-12 km, at an intensity that Ben would characterize as mid-range. My first longer run was a 10-miler (16 km) when dropping off Colin at university in Iowa City (see here). I did 18 km lat week at the prescribed heart rate (i.e. around 130) and 20 km this morning where my HR was a little faster but only because a woman passed me while going around Como Lake and I just had to see what her pace was. At 130 bpm I feel like I could keep going and going from a cardiovascular perspective. My legs feel tired after 20 km but with 20 minutes of stretches even that goes away. How far should I run for a long workout? Do I need to get tired or is the idea to just get accustomed to make a run like this feel more like a walk in the park? I put these questions to Ben who suggested I gradually increase the time of the workout to three hours.

8/25 Long Run on opening day of Minnesota State Fair

9/1 Long Run

These long workouts do bring a new side effect: chafing. While it seems only light for me, mostly between my upper thighs and my nipples, but it is still uncomfortable. I invested in some new running shorts which work much better than my old ones. My form-fitting Sisu t-shirt works better than the lose ones I have. At this point I am simply going to watch it before taking more drastic measures.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sisu Year-Round Group: Roller Skiing Classic

You may notice the discrepancy between my the title of this activity and activity type: I don't have classic roller skis, so I skated through the drills. Drizzle and moderate temps were a change to the steamy weather that was with us since spring. A sign of fall, and the actual ski season? Another hint of change of seasons is dusk catching up with us towards the end of the session.

The workout included
  • Striding w/o poles over short distance with increasing lengths, about 6 repetitions 
  • Striding with poles, tricky to get that rhythm going. Coach Mike showed us how it's done.
  • The entire hill, 6 repetitions.
Skate roller skiing on wet surfaces is somewhat dangerous because of the slipperiness, especially when leaves cover the trail. I was extra careful to make sure to stay in control. Eventually I will upgrade to a combi skate and classic roller ski. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Iowa City Jog

Took moving Colin, my firstborn's move to the University of Iowa as an opportunity for a jog along the Iowa River. Since coach Ben of Sisu Ski Foundation pointed out that my aerobic workouts were sorely lacking I started with that part of my training plan: a slow ten mile run with dog, always an eye on my heart rate readout, making sure it never got above 130 bpm.

Both Mellie and I thougth it hard to run that slow and odd to be never out of breath.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sisu Year-Round Group: Dryland Quickness and Power

SISU Weekly Updates

When:  Tuesday August 16th, 6:30pm  
Where:  Battle Creek Winthrop St.
What: Dryland Quickness and Power
Coaches: Ben

Got scolded by coach Ben over my benchmarks: he says my work comes too much out of anaerobic effort and suggests to put in a 140 minute workout with  heart rate at 120 bpm

Today's session was cut short by rain.
  • Warm-up jog 
  • Up-hill runs with resistance, 2 series: 
    • V1 simulation
    • Sideways skipping 
    • Bounding 
    • Bounding with resistance for 4 steps
On the way back there was a lightning strike nearby that put the holy fear of god in me if I believed in it.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sisu Year-Round Group

Adding two workouts from the Sisu Year-Round Group.

August 4, 2011: Roller Skiing Skate at Lower Afton Road, Battle Creek East

Glad I made this session a day after returning from Belgium since this was the last roller skiing session in the series. The exercises included two repetitions each of the following:
  • Warm-up ski from the water park parking lot
  • Crunches with resistance
  • Crunches without resistance 
  • Legs-only with resistance
  • Legs-only without resistance 
  • V1 with resistance
  • V1 without resistance
  • V2 with resistance
  • V2 without resistance
  • Agility with quick turns around cones

August 9, 2011: Benchmarks 2 at Battle Creek West 

(For the initial benchmarks go here)
  • 4 laps of 1.2 km (plus 1 cool-down)
  • 2 sets of leaps over 50ft without poles
  • 2 sets of leaps over 50ft with poles
On the leaps: my stomach muscles cramped up the first time I did this, not this time!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Around Wesertalsperre Eupen

Wesertalsperre at 7:30
After I contacted my old school friend Reinhard via Facebook, he suggested we should run around the Eupen reservoir. What a great way to catch up! We talked about our jobs, kids, and the old times at Koenigliches Athenaeum Eupenall while running along the forestry roads around the reservoir. It was a perfect morning for a run like this, calm and crisp. I wouldn't have wanted to do this run under a midday sun.
After the run

Monday, August 1, 2011

Two More Runs from City Center Eupen

Since returning from France I did another couple of runs from my brother's place, similar to the runs I had previously done.

On 7/31 I ran from Bergstrasse past the old ash oval where I had been introduced to track and field, the monstrous new football bleachers and Am Galgen (At the Gallows--they changed the name to something benign, my dad told me that when he was a kid it was still standing there) towards Schoenefeld, one of the roads that leads into the forests on the south side of Eupen. I entered the Eupener Wald to follow part of the old fitness parcours towards Langesthal, exiting the woods at am Blech. I climbed towards the trail below the Kehrweg, crossed the Frankendelle and took Schorberg and finally climbed to the Moorenhoehe. A good run taking advantage of some of the terrain the Eupen area has to offer.

On 8/1, I redid the jog along the northern edge of Hertogenwald, entering the woods from Malmedyer Strasse SE of the Kabelwerke. Like on previous occasions I exited the Hertogenwald near Membach and took Limburger Weg past Loussack and the Waisenbueschchen back to the city.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Èze - Chemin Savaric - Basse Corniche - Chemin Frederic Niezsche

We had spend the previous day at the beach and Colin had contracted a sunburn. He refused to come along for this gem of a hill run.
Who knows who went over the edge here or succumbed to heat exhaustion.
Glad I did this early in the morning!
I had reconnoitered the trail head for the Chemin Savaric on the previous night. I left Èze again along the Moyenne Corniche, direction Nice but continued for about 1 km past the viaduct and past the heavily fortified Savaric estate. I began the steep descent, first on a rocky path. As I descended past a shrine to the BVM, a back-country homestead complete with chickens and donkeys, the Chemin Savaric became smoother, with the addition of concrete.
The trail head for the Chemin Frederic Nietzsche is fairly easy to find: it starts
across from the pedestrian bridge across the SNCF tracks. One caution: the
road closest to the highway is a driveway!
Finally, I reached the upper reaches of Èze Bord-de-Mer and kept following the steep switchbacks of the town streets.

At the bottom, I followed the Basse Corniche, past the SNCF station to about where a pedestrian bridge crosses the rails. Here, I asked a street sweeper for the foot path back to Èze. One of the two paths was a drive way, the other one, the one on the left is the Chemin Frederic Nietzsche.
Steep switchbacks most of the way up.
 Now that is a hill run. Steep switchbacks that seem to go on and on for ever. I quickly realized that I did not have the necessary stamina to cover the 300+ m of climb without stopping, so I made it an interval exercise: run for a few minutes, then rest and take a picture. That way I got to the top surprisingly fast.
Beautiful vistas of the bay and some of the fabulous estates.
Soon, Èze Village seems within reach.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Èze - Mont Bastide - Èze-le-Col - Èze

For this run I was lucky to have Colin along. After yesterday's cloud cover, rain and unseasonably cool temps, this morning started out with gorgeous blue skies. We took the Moyenne Corniche dirction of Nice out of Èze and started climbing the Chemin de David right, at the end of the viaduct. It was a steep climb of about 250 m and Colin needed to take a few walking breaks while I took pictures.
A minute or so from the top of Mt. Bastide, with Cap Ferrat in the background

We met near the top of Mont Bastide and began the downhill from there, for a short way on the Grande Corniche and then along D46 back into Èze Village.
All downhill from here!
Almost back to where we started. At the right hand side of the bridge the
Chemin de David starts climbing in steep switchbacks on the eastern face
of this hill. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Èze - Rte de Turbie (D45) - Grande Corniche (D2564) - Chemin Serre de Fourque

A real jog with a view and a 180 m climb. Glad it wasn't hot.
Just after turning onto the Grande Corniche
I followed the Moyenne Corniche out of town and then took a left onto eastbound D45, steadily climbing to the intersection with the Grande Corniche, here called Ave. des Diables Bleus. Doing a hairpin west, I kept climbing till I almost reached Èze-le-Col.
Looking at Èze from the top of Chemin Serre de Fourque
When I spotted a foot path heading back to Èze-Village, I took the opportunity and dropped steeply back to my starting point.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Grenoble, along the Isere

Gorgeous crisp morning. Got Colin up, amazing, he seemed raring to go. For the first 2/3 of the stretch we ran close to my usual training pace. The city streets at the beginning and especially at the end were a little slower because of busy sidewalks and traffic lights. We started by running down Blvd. Gambetta and then continued upriver. Initially on a narrow sidewalk but soon on a dirt path right on the river banks.

A few minutes after turning east from Blvd. Gambetta onto a road following
the Isere.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Limburger Weg-Loussack-Membach-Stockem

Another run with the boys. Anna, daughter of my old buddy Fritz, challenged us to come pick her up, sadly she was indisposed. We had a good run without her, Colin running the entire way, with the short break stopping at Fritz' house.

At Giesberg Chapel 

Fishpond at Roereken 

Thursday, July 21, 2011


I did not think I would live to see the day: went for a jog with my boys! Followed one of my common routes, passing by many familiar landmarks, like the house where I grew up, the fish pond at Roereken, Loussack and others. The boys hung in there, I'll get them to be runners yet.
About halfway point at Roereken

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Eupen, from Limburger Weg
Being pretty much up 36 hrs. after leaving the Twin Cities, visited with brother Arnulf, my parents, and indulged in a hearty but maybe not heart healthy portion of fries with a bockwurst. According to Gestur, CNN stated that indulgence is ok, if not good when the bad stuff is limited to no more than 10% of the overall food intake. Gestur did not say anything about the facial creme further down in the article ...

The family decided on a nap we returned home, and I, knowing that I would never get up if I laid down now went for a nice run. It included a jog through Hertogenwald, along the very northern edge of the Ardennes, through Membach, a pasture with plenty of cow pies and back along dirt roads past Loussack farm and Waisenbueschchen. It felt good to run in 17C temps for a change.
Weser, from bridge at Perkietz, Membach

Chapel at Perkietz, Membach

Looking east from Loussack, Membach

Village of Membach, from Loussack

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Watertown Tercet

Had a couple of fun runs on the east side of Watertown, SD while there on a business trip.

1. Tuesday, 12th July

Surprisingly cool morning in lovely Watertown, SD. No curb when crossing Hwy 212 bridge across Willow Creek, made me feel a little queasy. Ran four straight lines in a square SE of the city.

2. Wednesday, 13th July

Meant to do some hills near the Big Sioux River and figured that I could reach it by way of 29th Str. SE.
Looking at the elusive hills SW of the Sioux River
What I did not know was that there is a ford in lieu of a bridge and I had to turn back.
No crossing. Now I know why the road S of 20th Ave SE was closed. 
Ran three tempo stretches of 1'45" each instead. Beautiful morning!
Sioux River, looking NW towards town.

Redtail hawk being harassed by grackles, some killdeer and other birds and the beautiful landscape along the road and some good ol' country smells like pig manure ...
Running N along 29th Street SE. The building at the horizon just to the left of
the nearest power pole is the Hampton Inn, my abode for the past two days. 
3. Thursday, 14th July

Decided to run north of Hwy 212 today. It seemed hillier running around this quadrant. After I crossed the Willow Creek a bicycle/walking path branched off and led straight north. I decided to follow this path even though it was a shortcut from my planned route. I did not regret it. It started raining when I was about halfway through the run but the temperatures were much warmer than on the previous two mornings, almost uncomfortably so. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sisu Year-Round Group 9: Balance, Leaps & Bounds

Weekly email: SISU This Week (M.Y.R. Tuesday PM - St. Paul) SISU Weekly Updates

When:  Tuesday July 5th, 6:30pm  
Where:  Battle Creek Winthrop St.
What: Dryland/quickness/strength ( 3 of 3)
Coaches: Ben P

Notes: Battle Creek for some dryland and ski bounding and strength (Bring short poles)

I could not make the Tuesday night session and thus joined the Thursday group. Ben had cooked up a good mix of balance, strength and quickness exercises in three separate series. When I arrived, Ben was busy pumping up balance disks. He had some helpers along to coach the different series and to help set up the circuits which included hurdles, resistance bands and cones.
  1. 20 minute warm-up jog 
  2. Balance.  This happened to be my first exercise. We were standing mostly one-legged on a 40 cm balance disk, following the coach's instructions to change our position, in line with classic and skate motions. A 6 lb. medicine ball was soon added, which we were to hold in front and to the side while keeping balance on one foot. We also hopped from one foot to another. The segment lasted about 15 minutes.
  3. Strength and quickness circuit. 
    • Sideways jump-steps from a crouch, explosive, switching sides, 2 repetitions
    • Sideways lunge pushing off explosively. This was a killer exercise! Felt "the burn" in my inner thighs
    • Explosive jumping over low hurdles, feet together, two repetitions forward 
    • Explosive jumping over low hurdles, feet together, two repetitions sideways
    • Bounds over 50 ft., as few as possible, 2 repetitions
    • 50 ft. sprints with resistance tube around waist: partner holds the tube and slows sprint
  4. Skate technique uphill, 6 repetitions 
    • Focus on body position, hip, not shoulder leads
    • Focus on pole timing, crunch while over gliding leg
This was a great workout, especially the strength/quickness portion made my legs, especially my inner thighs feel heavy.

Unfortunately I won't be able to attend the next three weeks, traveling first for work and then to Belgium ...

Monday, July 4, 2011

First Solo Rollerski, a Minor Disaster

Two women bikers asked me if I was training for
something. They thought I looked pretty funny
with my poles sticking up.
I decided to mix it up and went rollerskiing instead of running. I rode my bike to the intersection of Como Ave. the University of Minnesota Transitway, a dedicated bus route between the Minneapolis and St. Paul UMN campuses. Here, I switched from sandals to ski boots and started. The first obstacles were several major expansion joints on the north slope of the bridge across the BNSF tracks. I was thinking to myself that I would better unstrap my skis for the downward portion of this stretch. The bridge curves westward to Mineapolis and fortunately, the concrete turned into blacktop on the downward slope, without any joints.

I decided to ski to the Gopher football stadium and then do some intervals up the slope to the top of the bridge. Except for a couple of bridges with more expansion joints it was pretty smooth sailing. I was on the home stretch towards my turn-around point when I got a tad off balance and sat down, in slow motion. Not slow enough since the tip of my left thumb and the knuckle and nail of my right middle finger had a close encounter with the rough blacktop surface. The thumb tip was ripped off and my nail was neatly punctured  on the middle finger. It was amazing how uncomfortable these two small wounds made me feel. I did not take the time to scrutinize my injuries till I got home, but it felt like many more fingers were compromised.
T'is nothing but a flesh wound. Still, I did buy some full-finger
leather gloves at Menard's for my next outing.
Both fingers were bleeding profusely and I was dripping all over myself. The bicycle gloves I wore became squishy and the grip on my poles slippery. I did make an effort to do three repetitions up the bridge but then decided to get home and take care of my injuries.

The approach:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sisu Year-Round Group 8: More Bounding

After sitting out last week because of worries about my knee ache I was glad to be participating again. 

When:  Tuesday June 28th, 6:30pm    
Where:  Battle Creek Winthrop St. 
What: Dryland/Bounding.Fun?!?!?! (2 of 3)
Coaches: Jason Kask - Coach Ben's sub...he will be gone fishing with his kids...slacker!  work hard for him!
Knee drop, quickness, power, balance...need it all to bound - so lets try it.  Jason will work you hard...come ready!  
The gradual ones were the ski walking reps, the spiky ones were the
bounding reps. 

  • Warm-up
  • Ski walking: hip rotation and emphasis on knee drop to get the kick. 7 reps of 225 m
  • Bounding, with hip rotation, knee drop and trying to crunch while poling
  • Cool-down

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sisu Year-Round Group 6: Strength Training in lieu of Classic Skiing (rain)

Weekly e-mail was a little off due to heavy downpours:

SISU Weekly Updates
When:  Tuesday June 14th, 6:30pm  
Where:  Battle Creek Water Park
What: Classic Rollerskiing (4 of 4 - Last one)
Coaches: Ben P, Mike N
Notes: Classic Rollerskiing - look out, here we come....again.  Last classic ski for a bit.

Instead of rollerskiing, we did a strength circuit in the Battle Creek East picnic shelter. The cigar smokers took off after a while, too much wholesomeness for them, but the bicycle bum in his sleeping bag could not be bothered. This is what we did:

Three sets of each series:
Series 1
45" abs leg spread-leg lift
45" arm dips on bench
45" quick up-down stepping on single stair
Series 2
22" abs touch heels left-right 22" static lift
45" push-ups of table or bench
45" jump step on bench
Series 3
60" sideway jumping
60" sideway up steps
60" frontal up steps
Series 4
45" knee bends heel fore, heel side, toe back

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sisu Year-Round Group 5: Classic Skiing

SISU Weekly Updates (our weekly e-mail reminder):

When: Tuesday June 6th, 6:30pm
Where: Battle Creek Water Park
What: Classic Rollerskiing
Coaches: Ben P, Mike N
Notes:Classic Rollerskiing - look out, here we come....again. More on upper body this week. Still balance drills too.

Our expectations were for a repeat of last week's training. The reality looked a little different because of the weather: at almost 40 C (102 F) it felt like training in a sauna. I am glad we did not have any bounding in the hills of Battle Creek West, that would have been harder. The squirts from my water bottle, the wind, rolling down the hill along Lower Afton Road between laps of double poling and some cold Gatorade from the coaches' ice chest provided the relief to make the session bearable.

This session included the following:
  • Warm-up (if you can call it a warm-up when the temp hovers above 35C)
  • 1 lap crunch double-pole
  • 1 lap crunch-medium-full double pole
  • 8 laps full double pole
  • video review
  • anther series of 7 full double poling (instead of the classic ski technique which I cannot do because I have skate-only roller skis)
  • cool-down ski back to parking

Garmin Connect provides a great visual of the intervals, both in terms of HR and elevation
Coaches comments, especially during the video review were very helpful. During my first couple of laps Mike urged me to make sure to relax my shoulders. Correcting that was a matter of swinging my arms forward more dynamically. Subconsciously I must still quite afraid of falling on something other than snow and I have to work on turning this fear into something more akin of respect. Ben's comment on my hips and center of gravity being too far back made perfect sense and I tried to take that leap of faith of falling into my double pole plant. Amazing what a difference this makes. Both Ben and Mike gave me positive feedback, Mike said it's like cheating.

For next week I have to make sure I don't forget my helmet. Just as when biking or motorcycling I do not like to tempt fate ...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sisu Year-Round Group 4: Classic Skiing

Weekly e-mail preview:

When:  Tuesday May 31st, 6:30pm  
Where:  Battle Creek Water Park
What: Classic Rollerskiing
Coaches: Ben P, Mike N

Classic Rollerskiing - look out, here we come.  Learn to do it, or specific strength DP for those more advanced.

Got myself some Pursuit Rollerskis from and the last pair of Salomon Pilot bindings from I do have to say that I am a little worried about this: concrete and blacktop are quite a bit harder than even icy snow. But I am trusting that our able instructors Ben and Mike will be conveying the necessary skills and I am also going invest in some protective gear.

There was a surprise when I arrived, apparently Ben had gotten hurt at the very end of our last session. He tore a muscle in his calf, just while standing and supervising us. It sounds like he won't be able to do anything strenuous for three months and sure enough, he showed up with a leg brace and compression sock.

Since I don't own classic or combi roller skis I skated. There was a short warm-up in the water park lot while waiting for the stragglers. A few wobbles but nothing too dangerous. My main issue using rollerskis for the first time was putting them on. No problem with ski one, but ski two was problematic. At the car, I sat on the back, hatch open, and later, trail side, I used a fence post for support. No real problem and shaking the skis off wasn't an issue, either.

Warm-up continued when rolling from the water park lot to Lower Afton Rd. I was a bit worried about down hills but there was nothing major. After we got to the Lower Afton Rd. lot the real work began.

Series 1: 7 reps of legs only, emphasizing glide with one ski off the ground and bringing ctr. of gravity above push-off ski.

Series 2: 4 reps of crunch double poles, working the core. No help from the arms, not too much follow-through! Of course I hadn't been listening and used my arms too much. Both Mike and Ben yelled "you're cheating." I got closer to good form in the further sequences.

Series 3: 3 reps of full arm push, crunch and follow-through.

Cool down completing the loop back to water park. There was at least one downhill with a sharp turn at the bottom. Twigs and leaves on the ground didn't do anything to increase my comfort level but I made it.

A word about my Pursuit Rollerskis: they worked great though I will invest in a pair of the slowest wheels. They did seem quite a bit faster than the Marwes, which almost everyone else was using. After getting used to being on rollerskis, they felt nimble, very similar to being on actual skis, allowing to maneuver by quick stepping. I do miss that full snow plow, though ...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sisu Year-Round Group 3: Bounding

Weekly e-mail preview:
What: Tuesday Night SISU - Dryland (bring short poles)
Where: Battle Creek Winthrop St.
When: Tuesday, May 24th, 6:30pm,
Notes: Bounding @ battle creek Winthrop. Bring your short poles and lets learn how to bound – makes us fit and ski fast!

About halfway up the gradual hill (Photo by Ben Popp)
Bummer, my Garmin Forerunner 305 was not charged, I don't have the metrics. I would have loved to see my heart rate as I arrived at the top of the hill. Today's session included a 15' easy warm-up, a series of 7 reps of hill runs, or rather bounds with poling. This was the "easy" portion, on a long and gradual climb, 200 m or so. Hard work, especially when trying to do it right.

From there we moved to the sledding hill next to the community center where did some technical exercises to improve form: explosive push, arm swing, landing, balance, bounding always up the steep incline. The session  concluded with a series of 3 reps with bounding and poling up to the top of the sledding hill.

As I said, no Garmin metrics but a picture, courtesy of Ben!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Orienteering at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park (Red Course)

2011 MNOC spring orienteering meets seem to be marked by water. It rained yesterday during the day, at night, overnight and this morning. It rained hard during the drive to Northfield and more rain from Northfield to the Big Woods. I hurried putting my O-gear on in the parking lot, unsuccessfully trying to dodge raindrops. I hurried to the shelter for registration and to the tent where I waited for my start. As I started the clock at 11:18 the rain stopped but I knew full well that this would be a wet one anyway.

The short jog across the parking lot should be one of the few dry areas I would encounter during this meet. As I dropped into the first valley, the runoff from the from the parking lot stayed with me. In spite of the steep grade there was standing water everywhere. Game trails and later park paths were worse, typically sporting ankle-deep water. I jumped the creek, from a high bank to a sandy area, delaying fording for a while. I hit CP1 square on the nose. Following the lead of an ROTC kid, I used a downed tree to delay fording some more. CP2 was not difficult either and CP3 didn't seem difficult either. Boy, was I wrong.

I had promised myself after the last meet that I would take the initial controls easy, but I must have thrown caution to the wind after success at the the easy CP1 and 2. Somehow I veered too far to the east and got completely turned around. I finally found my bearings again near the falls/dam on the creek. I made 2 extra kilometers and lost about 25 minutes. Major bummer, but as usually in orienteering I had only myself to blame.

Fortunately and as usual, things were looking up from here. I have a sense that the more out of breath I am the better my brain works, I have to put this to a test sometime, maybe by running a Yellow before my main event. The route I plotted to CP4 worked beautifully, following one of the submerged trails. I was on the right track to CP5 as well, aiming for the corner of a rectangular open area. I was looking for the ruined fence and thought I had to move a little further east when the fence told me by way of a deep gash that I had arrived. No further issues with CP5, CP6 through 11 were easy, too.The constant sloshing through water and muck were starting to take their toll on me, though. I made one odd observation at CP9, which was a fork in a stream: one of the arms of the stream had a completely dry albeit soft sandy bottom.

I think that going from CP11 to 12 I made the wrong route choice by returning to the trail and bridge instead of wading across and taking the direct route, using the edge of the plateau to move towards CP12. I did find it without difficulties and had except for starting to feel quite exhausted no trouble with CP13 and the finish either.

Running the course in 2:03:41, I finished 11th out of 25. My one major screw up on CP3 cost me at least 25 minutes and 3-5 places . Learn to live another day ... See results here.

Spent, at the finish. Photo courtesy of Andrei Karpoff
My Inov8 Mudclaw 330 did not give me any trouble this time in spite of constant immersion in water, mud and several waded stream crossings. They collected quite a bit of silt and sand on the way, which did not bother me. The deepest stretch of wading was from CP5 to 6, where the water reached up to my waist.  Despite the wetness and my poor performance from CP2 to 3, I liked the the course a lot.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sisu Year-Round Group 2: Benchmarks

Weekly e-mail preview:

What: Tuesday Night SISU  - Dryland (bring short poles)
Where: Battle Creek Winthrop St.
When: Tuesday, May 17th, 6:30pm,

Workout:  20' easy warmup | Benchmarks!!

3x 1.22km slow-medium-80%

Double bump run at 90%

Joined-feet leaps over 50 ft uphill (on sledding hill)
11 joined-feet leaps
9 joined-feet leaps & double-poling

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sisu Year-Round Group 1: Bounding, Mostly

I was lured in by SISU Skiers’ copy from their flyer available on their website:

ST. PAUL YEAR-ROUND-TUESDAY NIGHT 5.10.11 – 2.14.12 (41 sessions)
The Year-Round Sisu Training program is ideal for the citizen racer or outdoor enthusiast who will benefit from the extensive ski experience of our coaches, as well as the opportunity to meet other skiers with similar interests. By breaking into smaller groups of comparable experience and ability for each training session, we are able to customize the instruction to the needs of our participants. Regardless of your level of condition at the beginning of the program, or your area of interest – racing, cross training, or recreational skiing – you will learn how to increase your proficiency and fitness as a skier. Roller skis required. Summer/fall sessions will alternate between dryland training and rollerskiing, with snow skiing come winter.
A little more intensity focused, training oriented, very high quality workout, still some technique. Workouts completed in a smaller confined area so different levels of skiers can be accommodated. Work on technique at speed.
FOCUS: Fitness, Training Periodization, Ski specific Intensity/Power workouts (ski, rollerski & foot)
COACHES: Ben Popp, Mike Nightingale
TIME/LOCATION: Tuesday, 6:30am, Battle Creek

I think I have a decent base level of fitness and I try to inject a weekly high intensity workout which is too easy to drop this when I am feeling not up to par. Hence, I see this group as an opportunity to follow a program led by experienced coaches that will improve my overall fitness and help me to improve my ski-specific condition and skill set.

To prove the point: during the first session Battle Creek Park on May 10, I was recovering from a cold. On this first hot day of the year (30C/86F), I would have probably decided to take a rest day but I felt this was not an option. I did not regret it, as the workout and the group dynamic was great.

The workout consisted of series of hill runs and lunges, focusing on an explosive kick movement to simulate the kick in cross-country skiing. The exercises consisted of

• 6 series uphill stepping, focusing on kicking motions, returning downhill by making long steps backwards
• "double bump" run focusing on kicking push in the uphill segments
• 6 series of two-leg jumps, trying to land and balance on one foot
• 2 series of backward lunges
• 3 series of two-leg backward skips, 10-15 each.

All segments were separated by jogging or fast walking.

GarminConnect elevation profile and heart rate graphs speak for themselves.
I added the labels for the segments
I did not perceive the workout as too hard during the session but I had seriously sore calf muscles on the following two four to five days, pointing out that the explosive nature of the drills was an item lacking from my own exercise routine.

I did an easy version of my normal 6 km jog on Thursday which helped get rid of the lactic acid in my calves. I am looking very much forward to the next session!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Orienteering at Lake Elmo Park Reserve

Great day for the meet at Lake Elmo: steady driving rain and fortunately not too cold. It seemed like getting into a cold pool or lake before a swim workout: the initial moments were chill but when the blood started pumping through my veins it felt not bad at all.

Tom and I left at around the same time, Tom doing orange and I did the red. As usual, I needed to warm up my brain rather than my body: I overshot CP1 in spite of some clear vegetation boundaries that should have been easy to pick up and follow. I muddled around, backtracked and need 8+ minutes for a distance that should have taken me no more than 2-3'. The split analysis confirms it: finishing 15th overall, my split for the first control was second to last. Reminder to self: WALK to the first couple of CPs (or to more technical CPs) after getting to the attack point. I hit the attack point right on and did not take the time to move to fine orienteering. I am making this mistake all the time, especially early on a course.

I think I made the wrong choice at CP3, going  the long way around the pond. But I am not sure, since I would have had to go through a rough area the shorter way.

CP4 to CP9 were easy. There are not many places with this type of open land. I appreciated the fact that the flags were not visible from afar, but picking a beacon in the distance for a bearing was never difficult and the grass had not yet grown to be a hindrance.

CP9 required a weighty decision: "dry" (by now there wasn't a dry spot left on my body) detour around the north end of Eagle Point Lake or wading through a "Crossable: deepest point 2.5 ft" strait, promising a slightly more direct route. I think I made the correct decision by picking the northern route, which seemed just barely longer. Gregg, a much stronger runner and orienteerer (he passed me at CP12) than me asked me after the race if I had swum.  I didn't get it right away, I thought he was making a joke on the weather but he meant the strait, which he had crossed wading with water up to his waist. His split for the leg was 7:23 (12th) to my 8:35 (14th). Not sure how much of this can be attributed to his overall higher speed or the wet shortcut.

On the leg between CP9 and and CP10 I ran into Tom, who had overshot one of his CPs. It does not happen very often to meet a friend who is doing a different course, though I had met my colleague Bryan  at Lake Elmo a couple years back. Maybe due to the open terrain?

CP11 was less than good, I should have done a better job taking a bearing instead of using the wetland to my NE as a handrail. I was too far E from the pond and consequently had to make a short correction W to get to the CP. CP12 was OK, but I second-guessed myself on the footpath I took from the roundabout parking area, losing a minute or two. My problem was again the transition from rough to fine orienteering. The short loop sequence of CP12 to CP16 was straightforward, helped by the contours an open terrain. I could have probably done better from CP17 to the finish, remaining on the trail instead of bushwhacking it.

In the end, I finished 15th out of 39 starters, see results here.

Some gear notes:
  • I continue to be impressed with the responsiveness of my Sportident SI-9 e-punch stick. Much faster then the loaners from the club. Ian programmed it after today's meet. 
  • On this wet day my Inov-8 Mudclaw 330 gave me a blister on the left heel, after a few races without any trouble, including the snowy Arctic Commando Trail Run last fall and the Tamarack Nature Center O-meet this spring.