2010 In Review

What a year 2010 was. Much of it didn’t go as planned for me, up to to the final days in December (more on that later), but it was still a great year. Being the blogger that I am, I like to chronicle and review most everything. These yearly review posts (see 2009’s review) are an easy starting point for me to find and remember events of my past. Hopefully you will find this interesting and informative, as well.

2010 started off with an injured knee that I thought some rest and rehab would fix up. I used this as an opportunity to work on my swimming, swimming more than 20,000m in a week for the first time, and did a 200-800 swim test in 2:39 and 12:13 for meters. I soon realized that normal rehab wasn’t going to make my knee any better, and decided I would have to get surgery.

While this was going on, I started the application process to graduate school. A few semesters earlier my adviser suggested that I pursue a masters degree instead of wasting my time taking five years to get an undergraduate degree. I took her advice, applied, and was accepted a couple months later.

I finally had surgery to remove Plica in my left knee in the beginning of March. The doctor was able to successfully remove the Plica (which was the biggest he had ever seen) and I was on with recovery. Within a couple weeks I was starting to jog again and back to running, swimming and biking with some consistency a month after surgery. Six weeks after my surgery I was back at it, almost in full force, logging over 14 hours in a week.

My Spring semester was incredibly busy. Honestly, I don’t know how I would have been able to finish my school work if I was traveling to competitions. So in that sense, I guess my injury was a good thing. Part of my requirements for graduation was a group project for my senior capstone. We worked with a cancer research lab on campus to develop an automated Petri dish filling machine — my contribution to curing cancer. The project was a success and my group actually won a prize at the UGRAD Symposium.

Around this time I was beginning to bike more regularly, and even made it up to Snowbowl. I had just received a new video camera from my cousins as a graduation gift so I made a short video of the ride.

My Farfar ("father's father" in Danish) and me after my graduation

In May I became a graduate of Northern Arizona University! I graduated with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and a Minor in Mathematics. I had a lot of my family up there to show their support for me. What a great time I have had at NAU and I am happy that I will be returning for a masters degree.

A bit later I was in Davis, California to see my sister-in-law become a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine! While there, my family sat down to watch my teammate David McNeill compete at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 5000. I vividly remember watching his inspiring race, yelling at the TV, and just being in awe of what he has accomplished. How fortunate I am to have trained, raced, and befriended someone like him.

Chris Baird, Jordan Bethke and I went 3-2-1 overall.

The Summer of 2010 was all about triathlons for me. I hit the training hard and raced three different races. My first was a very short sprint at Pt. Mugu called the Admirals Cup. I finished 2nd behind friend and “training partner” Chris Baird. Next up was the Breath of Life Olympic distance triathlon in Ventura. This time I took home the W, finishing ahead of Chris and Jordan Bethke, who competes for Cal’s triathlon team.

My final race, and I think my best of the summer, was at the Strawberry Fields Triathlon in Oxnard. I rode a great bike leg and ran very well. I actually thought I was leading the race, and even crossed the line thinking I had won. Unfortunately Andrew Haberkorn, who started in a wave behind me, ended up finishing 6 seconds faster! Such is the nature of amateur triathlons, a good lesson learned.

As the triathlon training winded down, I did a little review on my triathlon training for the summer, looking specifically at my swim (I swam a 2:13/10:10 200-800y test), bike and run training. I am a stats guy who likes to reflect. These posts showed that.

And speaking of reflecting, the Fall of 2010 provided lots of opportunities for that. I am happy that I realized that early on in the season, which inspired several of my blog posts. The first of these being my one piece of advice to runners: always keep a training log. In an attempt to make as many memories as I could from my final cross country season, I started a feature called “Getting to know The Lumberjacks” in which I interview my teammates, asking them 20 questions. I posted six total, including Tim Freriks, Andrew Belus, Sarah Raber, Matthew Coloe, Eric Lynch, and Lauren Hill.

Stanford Invitational

I finally ran my first race at the George Kyte Classic in September. A few weeks later we raced at the Stanford Invitational, setting a new 8k PR of 24:15 — it looked like my knee was going to make it through cross country season! Next up was Pre-Nationals. Before the race I talked a bit about my ambitious goal for the season: to be an All-American. Prenats would be my first opportunity to really see if it would be a possibility. In the end, I had a good race, and finished 38th, just 6 seconds behind where I wanted to be.

Any division 1 collegiate cross country runner knows that once Prenats comes and goes, it seems like the season is almost over. Flagstaff was suddenly bombarded with Fall and all the beautiful things that come along with it. The day after Prenats a few of my teammates and I headed up towards the mountain and enjoyed an easy run among the yellow aspens and green pines. I brought my camera with me and made a video that became very popular amongst the team, especially the song. Fun fact: the song in the video, Radical Face’s “Welcome Home,” was such a hit it was chosen to be the final song we listened to before we arrived at the course at nationals.

2010 Big Sky Champions

At Big Sky Championships I had a sub par race, but was happy to see teammates Tim Freriks and Eric Lynch step up and make sure NAU won its 4th straight title.

Shortly following the conference meet, Flotrack posted a “Workout Wednesday” starring the NAU Lumberjacks running repeat miles at Ft. Tuthill. The workout was 6xmile on 7:00 go’s, which is one of our hardest workouts we do. I actually remember being turned inside out for a couple days after that workout. I also have a nice little shout out from Coach Heins in the video.

Watch more Videos on Flotrack

Everything I had, one last time.

Regionals came and went without a hitch, and NAU was headed to the NCAA Championships once again. My final cross country race (at least for a team) was finally here. I realized the significance of the moment and I actually almost shed some tears while talking to my dad just before the race. In the end my goal of being an All-American proved to be just too much. I still improved on my 2009 result, finishing 87th. NAU finished 9th, its fourth top-10 finish in a row.

After the season was over, I had a lot of fun just being a dude. Two old friends from Simi Valley, Kelcie Wiemann and Michael Cybulski, visited me in Flagstaff and joined me in an adventure to Las Vegas. I spent the holidays with more friends and lots of family — just the way they should.

Just before the new year came, my right knee (NOT the one I had surgery on) started to bug me a bit so I started swimming and biking to give it some rest. Guess what happens next? Yep, I fell on a bike ride and now have a broken wrist. What terrific way to bring in the new year. So as I write this right now, I am still in a brace, which I will have to wear for another three weeks.

In the coming days I will bring all my loyal followers up to date with where I’m at right now, and where I want to be at the end of 2011.

Applying to Grad School

These last couple days have been consumed with getting everything together for my graduate school application. After graduating in May, the plan is to starts a Master of Engineering while I finish up my last year of eligibility here in Flagstaff. I have really enjoyed my college experience here and would like to take it a step further with a master’s degree. Plus I couldn’t imagine jumping ship four years into my collegiate career and finish my running competing for a different university.

The application is due in a week, so I am finishing up my r??sum?? and a statement of career objectives. I am thankful to have a brilliant girlfriend to help me edit and proofread this kind of stuff. Thanks Tina. 🙂

Surgery March 1st

I found out today that my surgery is scheduled for this upcoming Monday morning. I am happy to finally get this problem taken care of. After surgery, I will do rehab for several weeks and will be able to resume running approximately ten days later.

As of now I am leaving the Mt. Sac 5000 on April 16th on my schedule. If recovery takes longer than expected I will postpone my return to racing one week at a time. Hopefully, at the very least, I will be able to race a steeplechase in early May that will qualify me to run both the steeplechase and 5000 at conference.

Surgery is the Answer

Yesterday I met with Dr. Yuri Lewicky to discuss my knee injury. We went over the MRI, which showed some Plica syndrome. The options are to continue doing physical therapy and hope the pain goes away, get a cortisone shot or arthroscopic surgery.

The PT option is working slowly, as I have been able to run 3-4 miles every other day with little to no pain. The issue with continuing with this route is that, even if the pain completely subsides for a while, there is still a possibility that the pain will return later on. My worst fear with this knee problem is that it will go away for a while, perhaps allowing me to compete this outdoor season, then come back while I am training for cross country.

Dr. Lewicky did not recommend the cortisone shot for a couple of reasons. First, because the Plica is rather small, it would be difficult to pinpoint exactly where it is. It is likely that the steroid would not be injected in the appropriate location. The other issue is that the steroid can cause problems with fat tissue atrophy.

The final option, arthroscopic surgery, was the doctors recommendation. From what I have learned about Plica surgery, it is very noninvasive surgery. Recovery time is rather short, with only about 10 days until I could resume running. More importantly, there is basically no possibility of pain related to the Plica returning.

So with that, I have decided to get the surgery. I will be getting the surgery during the week of March 1-5. This would leave me about six weeks before the Mt. Sac Invitational, where I am hoping to open up 2010 with a 5k, if all goes well.

Read more about plica syndrome and recovery.
NAU Tune Up

Last night was the NAU Tune Up, the last meet in Flagstaff of the indoor season. There were a couple of huge highlights, starting with the pole vault. In the women’s pole vault, Berlin silver medalist Chelsea Johnson won and another athlete broke the Canadian national record.

The men’s pole vault was absolutely ridiculous. The 2000 Olympic Gold medalist Nick Hyson and 2004 Olympic Gold medalist Tim Mack both cleared 17′ 6.5″. Watching from the sidelines was Arizona State coach, and 1996 decathlon Olympic Gold medalist, Dan O’Brien. Crazy.

Then there was David McNeil. Dave woke up yesterday morning and decided he wanted to qualify for nationals in the 5000. He had to run 14:25 up here in the dome, which would convert to an automatic national qualifier. He ended up running 14:17, which converts to 13:39, a new national leading time. Dave now leads the country in the 3000 and 5000. Impressive. Congratulations Dave!

Super Bowl, Knee Struggles & Swim PRs

Happy Super Bowl Sunday! What a great, American spectacle. I was rooting for the Colts (Manning is the man), but I am just happy it was a great game. We had some teammates over — Darius Terry, Joe Withers, Simon Gilna and Eric Lynch — and we all made and ate lots of food. My contribution was my Mom’s chili recipe and Trader Joe’s cornbread. Both were delicious.


The knee troubles continue. As of now, I am able to run 10-20 minutes without pain. As I go longer or increase pace it begins hurting. I have been icing, ultrasounding, and strengthening for over a month now with little improvement. It is getting pretty frustrating. And to frustrate me further, I have been trying to get a CD with my MRI images mailed to NAU’s team doctor for over a week now. Patience is a virtue, I guess.

Once the doctor receives the images, we will have some orthopedics take a look. Depending on their suggestions, I may end up undergoing arthroscopic surgery on my knee. I have read and been told that, as far as surgeries go, arthroscopic knee surgery is about as noninvasive as it gets, with reports of people back running in a couple of weeks. The quick recovery time makes the surgery very appealing. Frankly, I don’t see myself back running full strength in a couple weeks without the surgery anyway. Why not get it fixed?

But I am getting ahead of myself. For now, I wait to see what the doctors say.


Today I did a time trial as prescribed by USATriathlon. The protocol for the test is a 200 (yards or meters), 1 minute rest, 800. I did this test a month ago and, converting from yards to meters, 2:45 and 12:45 equivalents. In today’s test I swam a 2:39 and a 12:13, 6 and 32 second improvements, respectively. I plan to continue to do this test once a month to measure my improvement.

Needless to say, swimming is going in the right direction. Still, I have a lot of work to do. For 2010, I want to be under 2:30 for 200m and 11:06 for 800m (at sea level). I swam over 20,000m for the first time this last week. I am hopeful that many more high volume, high intensity weeks will get me closer to that goal.

Indoor and Outdoor

Because of my recent setbacks, running the 2010 indoor season is out of the question. There are but a couple meets left before the conference meet and there is no way I will be ready. Outdoor runs into the middle of May and beyond, so I think if I continue down the road to recovery, I should be able to salvage a decent outdoor season. After the improvements I made in cross country, I think even a mediocre season for me should yield some solid PRs.

Back in Flagstaff

On Sunday I returned to Flagstaff after a great four week stay in Simi Valley. I have not been able to jump back into training with my teammates, as I am still fighting a sore knee. The good news is that I got an MRI and there is nothing serious — no tears. Basically there is some inflammation behind the patella (knee cap) that is causing the pain. When the swelling goes away, the pain should follow suit.

My last post I mentioned setting resolutions, or goals, for the new year. With this minor setback, I may have to alter a few ambitions, but hopefully the big picture remains the same.

2010 Goals

  • Continue to improve my running by logging high mileage weeks.
    • This track season I really want to improve my 5000 time of 14:50 and my steeplechase of 9:09.
    • Compete at NCAA Cross Country Championships once again and improve on my 95th place finish of 2009. The ultimate goal is to be an All-American — top 40.
  • Improve my swimming.
    • I will try to get in the pool at least once a week for the entire year. Obviously, when time and running permits, I will spend more time in the pool.
    • Seek out coaching to improve my stroke.
    • Compete in some of the Ventura Splash and Dash aquathlon series events, assuming the series continues in 2010.
  • Compete in more triathlons.
    • I had a great time competing in the Breath of Life triathlon last June, and will likely do this one again.
    • As of now, the San Francisco Triathlon at Treasure Island in July is on my calendar. As I understand the rules, if I am one of the top-3 amateurs I will earn my elite license.

Now for a shout out: Congratulations to my girlfriend, Tina Johnson, for her first Half Marathon last Saturday! My parents and I went down to Irvine to watch Tina compete in her first race over 5k! She did a great job and I am so very impressed and proud that she has become a runner just like me.

2009 Cross Country

The 2009 NCAA cross country season finished a week and a half ago now. Going home for the Thanksgiving holiday allowed some time for me to think about the season, go over what went well and what needs some improving, and to start thinking about the next season.

I officially started the 2009 cross country season on July 6th, a week after my triathlon. I jumped into a 70 mile week and followed with 80 and 90 mile weeks. It may seem a bit aggressive, but I wanted to get in as many 100 mile weeks as I could. The following week was 77 miles in 6 days (My only day off during the season. Just happened to be the only day all season that I couldn’t make any time to go for a run.) and then I started my first 100 mile week of seven.

This season was a huge success for me. I accomplished both of the goals I set in the Summer: make the top-7 and place in the top 100 at NCAAs. As some of my teammates had some struggles this season, I was actually the only person on the team to score at all seven meets (George Kyte, Aztec, Cowboy Jamboree, Pre-Nationals, Conference, Regionals and NCAAs). When all was said and done, I logged 1,806 miles this season. I have never been as diligent about logging mileage as I was this season, so I do not have a reference to compare with, but I believe that this season far surpassed the mileage I have run in the past. Since high school, I have had a steady increase in mileage and I attribute a lot of the improvements I am making now to that.

In Jack Daniel’s Running Formula, he says something along the lines that the benefits of high mileage are long lasting. My old teammate Marten Bostrom, who was known to run upwards of 120 mile weeks while running collegiality, talked about the benefits he gained from running such high mileage. Now, about seven months after joining the century club, I am convinced.

With this in mind, I had a meeting with Coach Heins yesterday talking about goals for the upcoming indoor and outdoor track seasons. I told him that my ultimate goal in collegiate running was to leave NAU as an All-American — no easy task, but that is why it would mean so much. My best opportunity to reach this goal will be next year’s cross country season and everything I do until November 2010 will hopefully be preparing me. We agreed that a year of high mileage is the obvious route to take. Over the next 12 months, I will try to build my aerobic system more and more with a plethora of 100+ mile weeks.

This is not to say that I am not looking forward to competing on the track this Winter and Spring. For indoors, I will focus on running a good conference meet and contributing to another Big Sky Conference title. If training is going well, and depending on how some of my teammates are running, I may get the opportunity to run a 5,000 at the University of Washington in Seattle. For outdoors, the main goal is to qualify for the first round of the NCAA Championships (aka “Super Regionals”). In the steeplechase, a sub-9 minute performance should get me in. If I am running well enough in the 5,000, a time in the low 14 minute range may be good enough.

Then there is the 10,000. As of now, I do not have plans to make my 25 lap debut this Spring. If the high mileage is feeling good, and Coach thinks I am ready for a good effort, then I will suck it up and give it my best. 25 laps just seems so brutal.

As for now, I am running easy a few days a week and doing some swimming. Since I want to give triathlons a serious try post college, I will try to get into the pool regularly all season. If I can swim once a week up until Summer, I should be way ahead of where I was when I started swimming a lot last May. Next week I will start running more, probably around 70 miles, and should be running 100 miles again shortly after the new year.

Looking forward to may miles of trials, trials of miles ahead…