2009 In Review

Another year, another decade gone (that is two complete decades for me, for those of you counting). 2009 was a great year for me. I had success in old and new passions and made wonderful memories.

Every December, my dad writes a Christmas letter about our family. He began doing this in 1981 and we have all the letters, 1981-2009, in a binder. This binder is placed on our coffee table around the holidays and it gives a chance for us to read about what was going on in our past lives. Family and friends that receive this letter often tell my dad that they look forward to it every year. While I do not have my own family to write about, yet, I will use this blog for my own reflection in the spirit of recording the past year’s events.

To be honest, the year started out rather unnoteworthy. Indoor track I set no new PRs and for the first time failed to score at a Big Sky track championship, placing 9th in the 5000 and something like 13th in the 3000. I then decided to red shirt the outdoor season, for various reasons. I came up short in the steeplechase as well with a 9:14.94, not being able to best my time set in 2008 of 9:09. In the 5000, I improved my time by the same margin Usain Bolt improved his world record in the 100m, 0.11 seconds.

Agassiz peak

After my short outdoor season, I enjoyed doing some other activities in addition to running. I began swimming, began biking and hiked most of Mt. Humphreys. I then turned my focus to triathlons and put in some really high volume days including a run/swim/bike day with 3 hours and 50 minutes of exercise.

I was my brother’s best man at his wedding on May 30th and spent a few days in Napa Valley wine country. At the end of June I competed in my first Olympic distance triathlon and the Breath of Life triathlon in Ventura. I placed 8th overall and 2nd in my age group and had a lot of fun doing it.

Gina, Andrew, Me, and the rest of the groomsmen

For the first time in a while I feel like I have a huge upside in a sport, something I haven’t felt since I was probably a frehsman in high school. No doubt there are more triathlons in my future.

For the 4th of July my parents, my girlfriend Tina and I met Gina and Andrew, the newlyweds, in Lake Tahoe. The fireworks show was spectacular. Shortly after arriving back home, the fun and games were over and I got an internship at ITT Aerospace Controls in Valencia. I got my first taste of working 9 hour days, 4-5 days/week. Somewhere in there I managed to get in some serious running volume, including my first ever 100-mile week in singles. The hard work I put in during July and August laid a solid foundation for me to build a great cross country season.

2009 Northern Arizona Cross Country, Fourth Place

And a great cross country season it was. I led my first cross country race since 2002, earned All-Conference honors at the Big Sky Championships, was the 3rd best 5th man in the country and joined my teammates on the podium — reaching my goal of placing top 100.

Each race I wrote a detailed race report (some are linked above), all of which I have reread countless times. I am very glad I decided to start this blog this year because I now have an archive of my race experiences. Every time I read about one of those races, I am taken back to that day and I can relive the race. As the years go by, I think this archive will become more and more valuable to me. You can read everything about my 2009 cross country season here.

For the second year in a row, I feel like I have raised the bar in my running and have experienced great success. I now have only one season of cross country and two seasons of indoor and outdoor track left. After finishing those seasons, I may never compete for a team, or even individually, at such a high level again. With this in mind, I plan to continue to enjoy my remaining eligibility and work hard to reach my full potential in running.

I hope you all enjoyed 2009 as much as I did. I plan to have a goal-setting post about 2010 within a few days. Until then, Have a Happy New Year!

The Good Life

Last Saturday’s KROQ Weenie Roast was awesome! Weezer came out in Snuggies and played a great show. Kings of Leon and the Travis Barker-DJ AM duo were great as well. My sister and her boyfriend were able to join us up on the lawn at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Irvine.


Training continues to be good and tough. I have started to swim with a masters swim group Tuesday and Thursday mornings. The coach has me doing a lot more kicking and other stroke work than I have ever done before. I am getting more and more comfortable in the water each passing workout and have come to realize that my butterfly needs a lot of work!

Saturday I got a 13 mile “long run” before the I left for the concert. This was my longest run in about a month.

Sunday I took the day off and went to the beach with my girlfriend, and my sister and her boyfriend. We had a great time near the Huntington Beach pier…. LOTS of volleyball going on there.

Monday – Got back to work with a fartlek in the morning that consisted of 5-4-3-2-1-1-2-3-4-5 minute intervals with half recovery. The total run was just over 10 miles. Later in the afternoon I biked 28.6 miles and went to the pool for 2000 yards that evening. Swimming after eating barbecued pulled pork at Famous Dave’s isn’t the best idea.

Tuesday – Swam with the masters group in the morning for 2000 yards and then ran 9.66 miles in the afternoon.

Wednesday – 10 mile run in the morning, a hard 3000 yard swim that consisted of 2 x 2 x 300 yard repeats at goal race pace, and 30 mile bike ride in the afternoon. Total of about 3 hours and 50 minutes of pretty hard exercise. Still felt pretty good at the end of the day too.

Thursday – Masters group swim of 2350 yards with lots of IM stuff. 3 mile tempo run in the afternoon with some of the Royal High School boys… 8 miles of total running.

Friday – Easy, hilly 10 mile run in the morning then a 25 mile bike ride. I quickly changed into my running gear and headed out the door at 5:30 mile pace for half a mile, then finished an easy 5 mile run. The running felt pretty weird, but a few minutes after I slowed down to an easier pace I felt back to normal.

The plan for the next couple of days is to get in a 14 mile run tomorrow and a long bike ride on Sunday. I will be meeting up with my old friend Dylan Jaedtke (who is training for next week’s regional meet in the steeplechase) for tomorrow’s run and will hopefully do Sunday’s bike ride in Ventura either on PCH or on the course for the Breath of Life triathlon.

Triple Crown

My teammates completed the triple crown at the Big Sky Outdoor Championships on Saturday. Shout outs to Ahmed Osman for winning the 10,000m and Dave McNeill for winning the 1500m and 5,000m.

22 Times Around the Sun

…that’s how much I have ran in my day.

Haha, just kidding of course. Today is my 22nd birthday. So far I have celebrated with a 10 mile run on a old, familiar route and a 3000 yard swim that included 22x100y (not a coincidence). I will continue to celebrate tonight at Ruth’s Chris Steak House. I can’t wait.

I picked up some new goodies for the triathlon/birthday gifts yesterday. I finally got some road shoes (I have been biking with mountain bike shoes/SPDs on my road bike) and some awesome Speed Play pedals. I also picked up a pair of DeSoto Tri shorts and a Zoot Sports visor. Since my hair is getting longer and I will soon need to run with a headband, I thought I might as well add a little extra sun protection.

The new gear
The new gear

Training has been awesome this week. Let me give a little recap.

Monday – Ran a hilly 10 miler in the morning (6:54 pace), swam 2200y, and then ran a few more miles in the afternoon. I commuted about 5.5 miles between home, swimming, and running.

Tuesday – 32.38 mile ride in the morning just over 95 minutes. In the afternoon I did a fun, short little workout with my old high school’s team. 4x400s on 3 minutes @ 64. 63.5, 64.7, 63.8, 63.9. A little jog, then 6×250 with 150 jog @ 37.7, 38.9, 38.4, 37.7, 37.3, 36.0. Then they did 10×150, so I opted for another 4×400. 63.5, 62.0, 64.2, 60.5. Tried so hard to break 60 on that last one but started to tie up the last 80m or so. Worked out to be a little shy of 8 miles of running.

Wednesday – Another hilly 10 miler, this one a little easier pace (7:22). 2300y swim. Then an easy 5 miler with the high school boys. Again, commuted on the bike about 5.5 miles.

Thursday – Met with a masters swim group that I am going to check out more extensively next week (1800y). Biked a little over 20 miles, picked up the gear I mentioned earlier, and then drove to the high school for another workout. 15 minute tempo @ 5:20 pace. Nice work Travis ;). 8 miles of running total.

Big Sky Championships

My teammates are in Missoula Montana for the Big Sky Championships this weekend. I want to wish them all good luck. NAU has the oppurtunity of being the first team to have male and female triple crowns in the same year (both teams have already won cross country and indoor track & field titles).

A Mediocore End

Saturday was a windy, relatively-cold day here in Flagstaff. As I traveled down the mountain to Tempe, I was relieved to see the temperatures come up and the wind calm down a bit. Temperature was probably low 70s for my race with about 15mph winds. I was pumped for the race and felt well prepared.

As I thought, the race in front turned out to be an effort between me and teammate Marten Bostrom. First lap was 71 seconds. Perfect. I followed close behind Marten much of the race, hitting splits (the ones that I remember) of 2:23 at 800m, 4:49 1600m for the first half. The pace felt good and the headwind on the back stretch wasn’t too bad. I thought for sure I was in for a great time.

About 600m to go, Marten took off (or, maybe I slowed down?). I distinctly remember hearing Coach Heins yell to Marten that he needed a sub-70s last lap to go under the NCAA Regional mark of 9:07.00. Lucky for him, he was able to cross the line in 9:06.95. Unfortunately, I had a dismal last lap and finished in 9:14.94.

The time was over 5 seconds off my PR, but there are a few things to be happy about.

  • Most of my hurdling went really well, with the exception of the opening laps. I tend to be a little overzealous and jump to high. I think I am wasting some energy on the first few hurdles and would benefit from more practice (obviously). This summer, I would like to work with my high school’s hurdling coach to become more proficient. If I can continue to practice hurdling throughout the year,?? I think I will see large improvements next Spring.
  • Water jumps went great. This is really encouraging because more practice on water jumps is a little daunting. All that pounding seems to be rough on my back.
  • 9:14.94 is my second-best time in the steeplechase. I guess that isn’t too bad for a red shirt season.

What’s up next

Since the race, I have taken three days off. This is the longest break I’ve had since after cross country nationals at the end of November. The time off couldn’t have come at a better time. School is very busy right now: rough draft for ME499 Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos project due Monday, final report due for ME 386 Machine Design due today, as well as homework assignments in other classes. Red shirting this season was a great choice.

I will probably start running again tomorrow and I plan to start swimming and biking a lot more in preparation for the Breath of Life triathlon at the end of June. The goal is to break 2 hours and 10 minutes for the Olympic distance (1500m swim, 40km bike, and 10km run).

I got some work to do!

Sun Devil Invitations Results

Sun Devil Invitational Tomorrow

Tomorrow’s Sun Devil Invitational at Arizona State will start at 7pm. The mens steeplechase is after the mens and womens hurdles and the womens steeplechase, so it looks like I will probably run at 7:45ish. Tomorrow’s high in Tempe is expected to be 85F, but it should cool down to below 80 by the time my race starts.

At the Sun Angel Invitational a couple of weeks ago, I noted that I probably didn’t eat enough before the race. I won’t make the mistake this time. I will have a good breakfast and some fruit and a sandwich for lunch around 2pm. A snack a few hours before the race should make sure that I’m not worried about nutrition on the starting line.

Race Plan

The heat sheet shows that there are a number of athletes entered around the 9:30 mark. Teammate Marten Bostrom looks to be my top competition, as he ran 9:06.89 back in 2006. Marten won the 5k here in Flagstaff this winter at the Big Sky Indoor Championships.

Considering the field entered, the plan will be to get out and run my own, comfortable race. I would really like to PR (9:09.04 currently) and would like to get close to the 9 minute mark. I want to make sure I don’t go out faster than 70 and blow up. 72s will get me to 9 flat, so that will be the goal pace.

Considering the workouts I have had lately, I think 9 minutes is a reasonable goal. I would really like to head into the summer and cross country training with a big PR.

Last Workout

Today was my last workout before what I like to call the “Olympics.” This is a term some of us like to use at NAU when we are talking about our biggest races of the season which is generally our last as well. Saturday will be my Olympics in the steeplechase.

After a great workout on Monday (3x4min, 4x3min, 3x2min with 2min jog recovery), today we had 6×800 with evens over hurdles and water jump. Paces were sea-level 5k goal pace on the flat 800s and steeplechase goal pace on the others.

The workout went well. There was maybe a 15mph head wind on the backstretch, but I ran most of the workout behind teammate John Killian (9:01 3k steeple this season) so it wasn’t too bad. Splits were 2:20.4, 2:21.5, 2;20.7, 2:23.0, 2:21.3, 2:23.2. I felt pretty tired coming into the workout and thought 6 would be too many before Saturday’s race. The workout was tough, but I felt like I was holding back a bit on the last 800. In the end, I think it ended up being a good workout giving me pace work as well as some confidence heading into this weekend.

Now before I get back to studying for tomorrow’s Thermodynamics II test, I want to wish my Farfar (Grandpa in Danish) Happy Birthday!

…and Happy Earth Day to the rest of you!

Last Couple Weeks of Outdoor

My short 2009 Outdoor Track campaign will be coming to an end in 10 days at the Sun Devil Invitational at Arizona State University. I will be running a 3000m Steeplechase for the second time this year.

After lowering my mileage last week for the 5k at Sun Angel, I am bringing it back up a bit this week and will probably end up somewhere around 90 miles. A year ago, 90 probably would have been an all-time high for me. I know that some people advise tapering for up to several weeks, but I feel like I get flat if I go too long without pushing myself much. I had a sub-par performance at this year’s indoor conference championships, I think, because I had several weeks in a row at relatively low mileage.

I had a nice workout on Monday: 20 minute Lactate Threshold (LT) and then some pace work 3 x 600m over hurdles on the track. The LT was run at 5:28 pace and right at my target heart rate of 175. Jogged back to the track ~0.5 mile and then started my 600s on 4:00 go’s. Goal pace was 1:48 (9:00 3k pace) and I hit 1:49.4, 1:46.5, 1:46.0. I got to trail World Championships-bound-teammate David McNeil as he was running 4×600 at 5k pace (I think he was running around 1:37s).

It looks like Friday I get to do that classic 12×400 @ 5k pace on 3:00 go’s.

Next week, I will probably lower the mileage down to 60 miles which should leave me feeling nice and fresh. Hopefully I can get below last year’s PR of 9:09.04 set in 100+ degree temperatures in Sacramento.

And P.S.

Jesus Would Slap the Shit Out of You
Jesus Would Slap the Shit Out of You

Sun Angel 5k

Saturday was the Sun Angel Classic at Arizona State University. It was an all-day affair with premiere events in the evening. I was scheduled to run the 5k at 9:25 pm, just an hour or so before my usual bed time. Unfortunately, due to rain earlier in the day, the race was postponed an hour!

“Great things happen to people who make great things happen to themselves. That was all I was thinking, ‘I got to make a great thing happen.'” Simon Whitfield

My plan for the race was to try to run 70 seconds/lap from the gun and really start racing the second half. I told myself to run smart the first 2km, run tough the second 2km, and then get after it — try to makes something great happen.

The race was pretty crowded, 34 runners lined the starting line, and the start was kind of hectic. I tried to tuck in on the rail near the back to avoid any of the mess. After ~300m of jockeying for position, I found myself in a comfortable spot. My first two laps were about 69s and I was feeling pretty good. “Run smart” I kept trying to tell myself. I came around the 1600 mark at 4:40 and was on the back of a pack of about 5 runners. Perfect. The next mile I hit a few 71s and came through the 3200 in 9:23 (technically a Personal Record from 9:25 in high school). The next mile was pretty tough and I started to fade. I think I probably had some 75s laps in there, yet people were still coming back to me. I charged on the best I could and finished in 19th with a time of 14:50.69; a PR by 0.11 seconds set 51 weeks earlier.

I guess a PR is a PR… I ran five thousand meters faster than I ever had before. With the 100 mile weeks I had put in since the beginning of March I thought I would be much faster than I was one year ago. I don’t like to make excuses, but I do try to learn something from every race. Here are some thoughts about the race:

  • I think I did a good job trying to adjust to the late start time and not let it affect me psychologically. Thursday and Friday night I stayed up past midnight to try to adjust (I still got 9+ hours of sleep).
  • I should have eaten more of a dinner before the race. Since the race ended up being over an hour late, I think I had not eaten anything other than bars in six or seven hours… definitely not best. A sandwich around 6 pm would have been best I think.
  • I was excited to get out there and run a new PR. Some of my more recent races I have not had the best racing attitude and it shows in my performances. Racing hurts, and you have to be prepared to embrace it.
  • My trip to Las Vegas last week probably didn’t help my performance. I took a day off when I was scheduled for an easy day and was not able to get in my prescribed long run.

I will be back at ASU in two weeks for my next race, 3000m Steeplechase. This will be my last race of my short 2009 outdoor track campaign and my last chance to impress my coach and teammates before cross country season comes around.

Sun Angel Classic Results | Race Video