February 2010 Stats

Photo of the Day

February 2010

Too many indoor shots here. I need to get out more.



After taking some time to recover from the Riddle Run, I actually got did pretty good running in February. I was quite happy to see my heart rate stay below 150 for several miles at 7:30 pace during medium and long runs. I’m actually feeling quite fit at the moment.

Month Distance # Workouts Avg per Workout
January 109.05 Mile 10 10.905 Mile
February 76.18 Mile 8 9.5225 Mile
Total 185.23 Mile 18 10.2906 Mile


On the bright side, I got my first (and only) outdoor training ride of the year in last weekend.

February 2010

Bike Distance # Rides Avg per Ride
Bianchi 18. Mile 5 3.6 Mile
Pocket Rocket 27.67 Mile 1 27.67 Mile
Thundercougarfalconbird 95. Mile 6 15.8333 Mile
Total 140.67 Mile 12 11.7225 Mile

January – February 2010

Bike Distance # Rides Avg per Ride
Bianchi 18. Mile 5 3.6 Mile
El Fuego 40.9 Mile 11 3.71818 Mile
Pocket Rocket 27.67 Mile 1 27.67 Mile
Thundercougarfalconbird 220.35 Mile 15 14.69 Mile
Total 306.92 Mile 32 9.59125 Mile

Month Distance # Workouts Avg per Workout
January 166.25 Mile 20 8.3125 Mile
February 140.67 Mile 12 11.7225 Mile
Total 306.92 Mile 32 9.59125 Mile

Cross Country Skiing


Snow is good for one thing, I suppose.

Month Distance # Workouts Avg per Workout
January 6.07 Mile 2 3.035 Mile
February 19.73 Mile 5 3.946 Mile
Total 25.8 Mile 7 3.68571 Mile



I’m still not quite sure what got into me here. I ended up walking to work more times than I biked to work last month. I guess I’ll blame the weather for the frequently-unsuitable-for-riding conditions.

Month Distance # Workouts Avg per Workout
January 28.66 Mile 9 3.18444 Mile
February 51.45 Mile 16 3.21563 Mile
Total 80.11 Mile 25 3.2044 Mile

Riddle Run 11

Yesterday I ran Riddle Run 11. This is a 28 mile ultramarathon held each January. You may recall that I was the first finisher at Riddle Run 10 last year, for which I was awarded the traveling trophy (a roll of toilet paper signed by the previous winners).


Last year I was in great shape, but the course was covered in 4″ of mushy show. I must have ended up running twice the official distance just from my feet slipping around so much. I ran nice and easy, finishing in 4h56m. It just so happened that nobody else ran faster, so I was first.

This year I knew I wasn’t in quite as good shape as last year, but we only had about 1″ of snow on the ground (which, while not ideal, is much easier to run through than 4″). I was really disappointed with my run at Tecumseh last month, so I had something to prove to myself.


I started the run very easy. I picked a big group to run with and we talked and laughed the entire first (of seven) four-mile loop. I’m notorious for starting too fast and (like last year’s Rockford marathon) I made damn sure not to make that mistake yesterday.

The second loop I picked up the pace a little bit, from 9:30 to 9:00 to 8:30. By the end of the second loop I was running slightly faster than 8:00 miles and I would stay at this pace for the next 12 miles or so. At the end of each loop I stopped by my car for 30-60 seconds to drink some gatorade and water and to grab a bite to eat.

“Ultras are just eating and drinking contests, with a little exercise and scenery thrown in.”

-Sunny Blende, nutritionist (from Born to Run)

Over the course of 28 miles I ended up eating four mini Clif Bars, a banana, two flasks of chia gel, a bottle of Gatorade, a bottle of water, and six Enduralytes (electrolyte pills)… and it still wasn’t enough. My stomach was growling the last eight miles.

During the middle part of the run the miles just flew by. Each time I finished a lap I thought to myself, I was just here a few minutes ago. I was flying and the miles were coming so easily, but it wouldn’t last forever.

I started to tire around mile 20. I quickly realized could no longer maintain sub-8:00 miles and I started to question whether I would finish at all. After eating I started my 6th loop much slower and I felt a lot better. I could definitely finish by running closer to 9:00 pace.

Riddle Run 2010

The last two laps were a bit of a slog, but I kept shuffling along, and I never stopped to walk (a feat I’ve only accomplished one other time, at Rockford). Three miles from the end a fellow runner Jason and his friend absolutely flew past me. I had last seen them exactly 20 miles earlier when I had just started to pick up the pace. It was amazing how strong they were finishing. I crossed the 26.2 mile mark at 3h46m, making this my third fastest marathon ever. On a trail. Covered in snow.

Last year I finished the run with mile 28 being my fastest. This year it was my slowest (the second slowest this year was the first mile). I dragged myself across the finish line in 4h04m, my fastest Riddle Run by more than a half hour, and a full 50 minutes faster than last year (almost two minutes per mile!).

Jason and his friend had gained six minutes on me in the last three miles, and they finished first. Matt and another guy were in between us. It’s rather amazing to me that the first five of us finished within six minutes of each other after such a long run.

So that was my fourth Riddle Run, my fifth ultra-distance run, my seventh trail marathon/ultra, and my 11th marathon or beyond. Of all those runs, this one was the third fastest, yet at the same time probably the easiest for me. Considering I didn’t do any training specifically for this run, and I didn’t taper at all, I guess I’d have to say that I’m in a little better shape than I thought I was. That’s a good sign.


We got a fair amount of snow last night and into the day today. I skied the 1.8 miles into work, which in these conditions was A) faster than walking and B) safer than cycling.

Most of my trip follows Kirby/Florida Ave which has a lot of grass off to the side, perfect for skiing. It gets a little tough around the Assembly Hall where there’s a whole lot of pavement and not much grass.

Urbana welcomes you

I expected to be pretty sweaty by the time I arrived at work, but I wasn’t that bad. I had a brutal headwind the whole way there.

The Frederick Marathon

After the 2003 Washington D.C. Marathon debacle, Melissa & I decided to run the Frederick Marathon in Frederick, MD (just outside of D.C.). It would be her first marathon (the debut) and my second (the redemption). This race was only one week after we planned to run D.C. so the change in plans didn’t really affect our training that much.

Neither of us had ever been to D.C. before, so we went there first to see the sights. The day before the marathon the sun was shining and the temperature was 70˚. We awoke the next morning for the race only to find rainy weather with a temperature of 33˚. And dropping. It’s always something.

The marathon was fairly small (452 finishers). As we lined up at the starting line the rain turned to snow, and it continued to shower us for the next four hours. The race started well. For the first 8-10 miles I was slightly faster than my target pace of 8:00 per mile (3:30 marathon pace) and I felt great, despite the cold and wet conditions.

Rob near mile 12 of Frederick Marathon

struggling with gel packet

Around mile 10-12 I tried to eat an energy gel packet handed to my by a race volunteer but I quickly realized my hands were too frozen to work properly. I couldn’t squeeze the packet hard enough to tear the top off. Not a good sign. A little while later I was looking down at the ground for a few seconds and a huge pile of snow fell off the bill of my hat. I hadn’t realized just how hard it was snowing.

Melissa near half of Frederick Marathon

This whole time I was learning the hard way that Maryland is much, much hillier than central Illinois. The Washington D.C. Marathon course was flat. This one, not so much. Around mile 16 we headed out of town into the country, where the hills were worse and the wind was howling. This was the absolute low point of the race, as the conditions were truly miserable.

I was slowing down considerably, but I felt okay until mile 21 or so when I completely bonked. Not good, but it was a whole seven miles farther than at Chicago. What is wrong with me? Can I not run a freaking marathon?

Rob at mile 24 of Frederick Marathon

I struggled the last five miles. I was soaking wet. I was freezing cold. My muscles were cramping. The race was really spread out at that point so there were no other runners around me. There were no crowds watching the race. I’m still not sure how I managed to keep going forward. I guess I knew that I would be even more uncomfortable if I stopped than I would be if I just kept going.

Rob at finish of Frederick Marathon

By the finish I was in no mood to run a full lap around the high school track before crossing the line. I mean it was right there, why would they tease us like that? I finished in 3:49:53. It was a half hour P.R. over my first marathon but I was still pretty disappointed. More importantly I was cold. Very cold.

I hobbled into the high school gym, where food and drinks awaited the runners. I could barely move my legs. I wanted to sit down on the floor but I was so sore I couldn’t bend my knees enough to even do a controlled fall. And I didn’t want to simply collapse. I was shivering. A volunteer took pity on me and mentioned that I could take a hot shower in the locker room. I was unable to get undressed so I just stood under the hot water with all of my clothes on. I’m pretty sure I had mild hypothermia.

Melissa at mile 26 of Frederick Marathon

What happened after that is kind of a blur to me. I remember having a difficult time finding Melissa, who finished a little while later. I remember wanting to put on warm, dry clothes, but they were all the way across the parking lot in our car and I could barely move. It was truly a miserable experience, though it still wasn’t as bad as the first marathon.

Frederick Marathon finisher certificate

Frederick in 2003 was the last road marathon I ran. I have since run a trail marathon (which also took place in a snow storm) and a few ultras. Frederick is still my P.R. In both of my first two marathons I was very unsure of my abilities and scared of the distance. Older and wiser, I’ve learned some lessons. I have a good feeling about Saturday.

The End of February

Photo of the Day

February calendar


Illini Chill

The February weather wasn’t great, but there were a few good days when I was able to get a small amount of quality miles in on the bike. I had two good road rides and a good mountain bike ride.


Bike Distance # Rides Avg per Ride
Bianchi 74.3 Mile 14 5.30714 Mile
El Fuego 16.86 Mile 1 16.86 Mile
Pocket Rocket 23.8 Mile 6 3.96667 Mile
Thundercougarfalconbird 117.39 Mile 2 58.695 Mile
Total 232.35 Mile 23 10.1022 Mile


Bike Distance # Rides Avg per Ride
Bianchi 144. Mile 30 4.8 Mile
Big Red 2. Mile 1 2. Mile
El Fuego 39.92 Mile 5 7.984 Mile
Pocket Rocket 23.8 Mile 6 3.96667 Mile
Thundercougarfalconbird 162.04 Mile 3 54.0133 Mile
Total 371.76 Mile 45 8.26133 Mile


Runner Rob

I eased up on the running a bit after the Riddle Run. This probably isn’t great for my training for the upcoming Illinois Marathon, but my body needed to recover. I chose to focus more on quality than quantity. Last Tuesday’s Armory fun run was the fastest I’ve done all winter.

Month Distance # Workouts Avg per Workout
January 109.34 Mile 10 10.934 Mile
February 55.83 Mile 7 7.97571 Mile
Total 165.17 Mile 17 9.71588 Mile


Rob starting 500 freestyle

In February I ramped my swimming back up with the start of Masters Swimming for the spring semester. We had another practice meet and I also swam the farthest I’ve ever done in one go (4300 yards).

Month Distance # Workouts Avg per Workout
January 1.87452 Kilo Meter 3 0.62484 Kilo Meter
February 14.9504 Kilo Meter 6 2.49174 Kilo Meter
Total 16.825 Kilo Meter 9 1.86944 Kilo Meter

Cross Country Skiing

No snow = no skiing.

Month Distance # Workouts Avg per Workout
January 26.67 Mile 6 4.445 Mile
February 0 0 0
Total 26.67 Mile 6 4.445 Mile

The Three Sisters

I ran at Forest Glen this morning with the Buffalo. This is the hardest trail in the area. It’s 11 miles long with some big hills (which happen to be concentrated towards the end). The last mile, in particular, has three monster hills, which have been dubbed the three sisters. I don’t know the full story behind the name, but that doesn’t stop me from using it. Once you conquer the third sister, you’re pretty much done with the trail.

Forest Glen trail run this morning (photos)

The run was at an easy enough pace that I was able to repeatedly stop and take pictures (I brought a camera along in my waist pack) before catching back up with the other five runners. The trail was in pretty decent shape. Someone had run through when it was muddy, then it froze a little unevenly. The wooden planks across all the stream crossings were a bit icy and required extra caution. There was one stream crossing without a bridge that required a single step in the water. That woke me up.

Forest Glen trail run

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The Slog

I just finished reading Jill from Juneau‘s report of her adventures in the Iditarod Trail Invitational, a 350 mile human powered (bike in her case) race across the interior of Alaska in February. She tells an amazing story.

Melissa was a little worried that reading this would inspire me to compete in this event next year… This is a little crazy even by my standards.

The Schroth Trail II

Brett & I skied 8.1 miles this morning on the Schroth trail at Allerton park. We did an outer loop and an inner loop. The entire trail had ski tracks already laid, so we didn’t have to do any of the really hard work. The warm temperatures yesterday made for some icy (i.e. fast) skiing today with plenty of glide.

This was the first time I have cross country skied where I wasn’t just in an open field. This trail actually had winding turns and rolling hills. It was much more technically challenging and it took some getting used to… but it was also much more enjoyable. The freezing fog (a phrase I just learned on this morning’s weather forecast) created a layer of hoar frost (another new phrase, thanks Brett) on the trees and prairie grass, so the views were spectacular (when I was in front, that is, otherwise all I could see was Brett’s butt). Much like yesterday, I overdressed, and paid the price in sweat.

I’m hoping to get at least one more ski session in before the current snow melts, but given that it’s raining right now and it’s only going to get warmer tomorrow, things don’t look promising.