Saturday, January 31, 2009

Hittin The Track, Week of January 25th

Another big weekend of indoor track action and some more great performances from Montana atheltes.

At the MSU Duals in Bozeman on Friday night the performance of the night was probably from Gardiner native John Ricardi and his 4:13.60 mile win. The Idaho State senior followed that up a couple of hours later with an 8:39.60 in the 3000 for 2nd place. Both performances were good as qualifiers for the Big Sky Conference Championships.

Katrina Drennan of UM ran her second sub-5:00 mile in two weeks to win the mile (4:57.81). She scored a double win with a 2:17.62 in the 800 meters.

There were quite a number of BSC qualifiers at the meet. The full results are at

On the Big Stage, Courtney Babcock of the Mountain West Track Club (and head XC coach at UM) ran a 4:39.56 mile for 6th place in the Millrose Games Mile in New York City.

The Frost Fever Frozen Frolic 5K was held in Missoula this morning. If I can find results of the race, I'll post them here.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Cliche' A Day Keeps Doldrums At Bay

The other night I was at my daughter's wrestling practice. (That's right - my daughter wrestles at 112 lbs for the Plains High School wrestling team!!!). They are approaching their Divisional and State tournaments over the next couple of weeks; and, the coaches are trying to get them to think ahead and to be appropriately motivated.

One of the coaches was pulling out the "No Regrets" talk. At first, I was just kind of letting it go in one ear and out the other. But, the more I listened to him, the more I began to appreciate the underlying philosophy.

I know that in this world it's easy to be cynical and calloused. I know that we often are uncomfortable with feel good, "touchy-feely" discussions. But, you know what - we have to not be quite so jaded. We need to take the time to step back and get in touch with some of our "softer sides".

No regrets - it's a fine way to approach this sport. Why train and race in a half-assed fashion? Why would you choose to do anything other than try to attain the best possible performance that you are capable of?

Now, some of us are more than happy with mediocrity and under performance. That's your choice. As for me, I would prefer to challenge myself and try to raise myself to a level that is above my expectations.

That's part of why the last 18 months had been a trial for me. With some psoas problems hindering my running in the 2nd half of 2007 then losing most of 2008 to a cracked kneecap, I have had to pretty much write off my performances since about June of 2007. Aside from missing the pure pleasure that I derive from being out on the roads (and tracks and trails), I missed the challenges or training to reach my highest level of fitness and racing performance.

And, that's why I'm so committed to my training this winter. I don't want to just fall to a level of "Oh - whoa is me. I'll never be the same after last year". I don't want to look back in my later years and wonder if I could have returned to my performances of my early 40's.

I want to be able to look back with No Regrets.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Saturday, January 24, 2009

"Season's" Greetings

Well- we're off the to start of the indoor track and field season for the collegiate athletes in the state. MSU-Billings has already attended a meet out of state; but, the rest of the in-state squads really got the season kicked off at last nights MSU open in Bozeman.

Full results can be found at: For me, the highlights seemed to be (in no particular order):

Patrick Casey (Laurel HS alum - MSU (but running unattached - red shirt year????) - wins the mile in 4:15.82. I'm pretty sure that this is a PR for Casey. As a freshman, he continues to come up big in his performances as he trasnitions to the college level.

Amber Watson - Rocky Mountain College - here's a girl who has run for several years; but, just started serious training and racing (in fact I'm not sure that she raced in high school) in the last 18 months. Since then, she has become one of the top XC runners in the Frontier Conference and qualified for NAIA nationals last fall. Last night, she hung with the "big girls", finishing 5th in the 3,000 at 11:05.16

Alan King - Amber's coach at RMC and one of the young-gun studs of the Montana racing scene. Here's a guy running around 100 miles a week as he gears up for a spring marathon and decides to drop waaaaay down in distance to work on his speed. The result - a 9:15.71 that placed him mid-pack against the college kids. Not bad for a marathoner.

Sarah Jackson - MSU-Billings: A product of Dave Coppock's program - she also ran with the big girls and more than held her own, running right in the mix with the UM and MSU girls and finishing in 2:24.63.

Katrina Drennan - University of Montana - a sub-5:00 time (4:59.46) in winning the women's mile race. Well within the BSC qualifitying time and just a few seconds outside of an NCAA provisional qualifier. Then she comes back to win the 3,000 in 10:18 and qualifies for the Big Sky meet in that event also.

Ellie Rudy - MSU - NCAA pole valut champion. Well short of her PR - but, her win at 12-11 1/2 (3.95 meters) is an NCAA provisional mark and gets her off to a great start in defense of her national title.

All in all a pretty good way to start off the season.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Getting Soft?????

As a rule, I have always preferred to run outside versus being on the treadmill.

But, over this past winter, I've done the vast majority of my runs on "The Beast". On the one hand, I've felt that I've been soft and just "wussing out" and avoiding a long string of crappy weather.

But then, my rational side takes over and I realize that I'm really trying to be smart about my training. First off, without driving into Plains or Thomspons Falls (18 & 30 mile round trips respectively), I've got very limited run options during the winter. (And, in the spirit of being environmentally and fiscally responsible, I try to limit my driving into town to run to 1 or 2 days a week.) I basically have the 2-lane highway with narrow shoulders. Lots of truck and semi traffic at high speeds. With the snow and ice this winter, the FS roads are a bit of a challenge and the trails are pretty much un-runnable. So, the treadmill allows me to be a whole lot safer than being out tempting the traffic or icy trails.

Second, although my knee is coming along nicely, it still is less than 100%. And, I've found that the treadmill gives me a consistent, uniform, soft surface that puts a lot less stress on my knee. When I'm on the roads every day, the knee tends to get a bit tender, which then makes me alter my stride, which then tends to throw the whole mechanics off (I really noticed this after running on the roads in Miami for a week right after the first of the year). Being on the treadmill actually seems to be helping the overall strengthening, stability and range of motion of my knee. So, again, it seems to be that running on the treadmill is the smarter choice.

So, perhaps I am getting old and soft - But, it also seems like I'm getting smarter (okay, for me getting smarter is relative - I'm still pretty much of a moron; but, perhaps a little less so after choosing the treadmill this winter).

See you on the roads, tracks and trails (and - for now - treadmills)

The Muddy Buzzard

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pix - for those who care

At the Domino Club in Little Havana

Taking Flight Over the Atlantic

Sunset in Nassau

The Buzzard Is Back From His Southward Migration

Well, the Buzzard found one way to get away from the cold, ice and snow (not to mention the driveway that is finding a second life as a bobsled track). Fly south!!!

On the 3rd of January, the whole family headed to Miami and the Royal Carribean Cruise Lines for a week of warmth and relaxation. Turns out that there is no snow, ice or below freezing weather in Miami, the Bahamas or Key West. Imagine that!! I almost didn't know how to run on the streets without watching every foot plant, baby stepping around corners and slipping on the ice every other step. It was also a bit of a shock to the system to leave Spokane Saturday morning at -4 F and hit Miami that evening with temps in the 70's and high humidity.

Sunday morning in Miami is pretty busy from the running and biking perspective. Heading over the McArthur Causeway and out towards Key Biscayne, the road is filled with runners and bikers, especially bikers. There were groups of 10 to 50 at a time doing group rides. Some easy and relaxed, some pretty serious. A lot the runners seemed to be gearing up for the ING Miami marthon at the end of January (lot of "I'm in Training" gear being warn). It was fun to be back in an environment with lots of runners. I saw more people in 90 minutes than I'll probably see in 90 months in Plains!

One of the striking things about Miami (at least off the downtown area) is the ability to hit some serious hills. The bridges over some of the bays are long and steep (400 to 600 meter long hills at 4% to 6% grade). No shortage of ability to get in some solid hill work if you want to.

The next run was in Nassau, Bahamas. Runing is always a great way to see some of the "real" parts of towns and cities. In this case, I was able to see an old fort that guarded Nassau in the 1700's, the hospital where Anna Nicole Smith's son died and her baby was born, the living conditions of the locals (not good - not quite slum conditions; but, not too far off either) and some of the most hellacious traffic that I've ever encountered. Narrow roads, high speeds, seemingly random traffic control - it was a bit nerve racking.

The other location that I got to run in was Key West. It's a pretty funky little town that is clearly geared towards tourists. But, at the same time, it still seems to have retained some small town charm and a certain vibe that made feel it feel less like a tourist trap and more like a cool place to hang out (Margaritaville indeed!!!). But, it is flat, flat, flat. If you don't have a treadmill, forget about hill work.

At any rate, it was a great break for the cold and gray that we've had this winter in NW Montana. I think it will allow me to get through until spring without going completely crazy.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Ricardi Back At It

John Ricardi is back on the track for the Idaho State Bengals. After redshirting the XC season, he's looking to go out big in his final track season at Pocatello.

He opened the season well with two fine performances at the Bengal Shootout last night.

Mile in 4:17.92 for 4th and a 8:35.70 3,000 for 3rd.

I know that John would love to make it to the NCAA's in the steeple this year. Here's to hoping that this early season performance is the first on many upward steps to meeting that goal.

The Muddy Buzzard

Racing in the New Year

New Year's Day morning in Thompson Falls was met by 104 runners for the Annual New Year's Fun Run. 48 men and 29 women tackled the 5K* while 27 total runners took part in the 2K event.

The weather was mild (27 F +-); but, an easterly breeze of 10 to 15 mph or so presented a bit of a challenge. The roads were snow packed; but, they had been plowed and sanded and the footing was reasonably good.

It's a fun race that is well organized by Sarah Naegeli (TF XC coach), her family, the TF XC runners and the owners of Mighty Fine T's and Sherpa Log Homes. It's well organized, the T-shirts are fun, and they have a large selection of awards and door prizes. In fact, Jacob Naegeli (the overall winner and Sarah's son) makes a very cool horseshoe nail runner sculpture that was given out as the age group awards (Runners Edge sells the little mini-sculptures (or they used to).)

The only problem this year was that a turn around point was mismarked (easy mistake with the cold and snow conditions) and the 5K course turned out to only be 2.85 miles. It certainly didn't affect any finishing positions; but, would have added about 75 to 90 seconds to each time if the course had been full length.

That being said, the top finishers in each race were:

1 Jacob Naegeli, Trout Creek, 18, 16:18 (Jacob is a TF alum and as a freshman was the top runner for Earlham College (DIII - Richmond, IN) this past fall)
2 Shane Donaldson, TF, 18, 17:00 (Shane is also a TF alum and as a freshman was the top runner for the Univ of Great Falls and qualified for the NAIA XC National Championships)
3 Tony Banovich, Plains, 47, 17:59 (token old guy)
4 Joeal Sather, Noxon?, 37, 18:12
5 Charlie Knapp, TF, 16, 18:13 (Charlie is a resident at one of the local private youth home/schools and ran the course is heavy sweats and basketball shoes!!!!)
6 Sancho Rides At The Door, 17, 18:18 (one of Anders Brookers Hellgate kids)
7 David Schmetterling, Missoula?, 37, 18:24
8 Thomas Everett, Missoula, 19, 18:56 (Hellgate alum, now running for South Dakota Tech)
9 Derek Naegeli, TF, 21, 19:05 (TF alum, now in college in Seattle Area)
10 Chris Everett, Missoula, 15, 19:21 (Thomas' younger brother, Hellgate runner)

1 Emily Schall, Frenchtown, 15, 20:12 (All-State Class A XC in 2008)
2 Em Kendrick, Missoula, 32, 21:31
3 Rhonda LeClair, Plains, 52, 22:16 (stud super masters runner)
4 Ashley Mix, Missoula, 16, 22:55 (Hellgate runner)
5 Vicky Mix, Missoula, 47, 23:09 (Hellgate runner mom)
6 Mariah Naegeli, 15, Trout Creek, 23:30 (another of the running Naegeli's)
7 Jefferyanne Parker, 16, TF, 23:50
8 Deb Gideon, 26, TF, 23:51

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Next Lap

Okay, to use a rather corny connection to the sport - at midnight we finished up the lap that was 2008. And, now, we are onto our first steps of 2009.

Like most everyone, I get excited about the turn of the new year. It's much like the view out my window this morning. Crisp and clean. Fresh snow without any tracks or marks. A fresh canvas to decorate any way that you see fit.

After the last 15 to 18 months, I'm especially excited for this new year. I'm healthy. My fitness is improving steadily. I'm excited about running and racing. The new year is ripe with potential; and, I'm going to make every attempt to return as closely as possible to my old form.

It's also exciting that a new year of statewide racing is upon us. Sure, the first few months are a little slow; but, in the next 10 weeks or so, we'll be off and running (literally). The first race of the new year will take place in a few hours in Thompson Falls with their annual even. (There is Yellowstone Rim Runners new year's day run at Riverfront Park. But, that's really more of a gathering of club member to open the year with a social run and some hot cocoa and treat afterwards.)

Speaking of the Rim Runners' event - As many of you know, I spent over 17 years in Billings and was a member of the Rim Runners throughout that time. In 2006 and 2007 (and maybe even 2005), I had some spectacular runs on the first morning of the new year. Kelly Fulton was presnt at each of these; and, at various times we had Dave Coppock, Alan King, Sam Hartpence, Jarred Rensvold and/or Zach Hunter. We would normally show up an hour ahead of the rest of the crew (hangovers and all) and head out for a long run. Our typical course would have us heading out towards Briarwood golf course; and, eventually we would make our way onto the secluded hills of the back nine holes. And, that's where the magic would happen.

We would see deer and turkeys. We would zip up and down the hills on a soft carpet of snow. We would stop and make the occasional snow angel. We would tell stupid stories and say "Holy crap it's cold" for the umpteenth time. But, the best part of the day would come as we turned south and headed back to the clubhouse area.

On those years, the fairways were blanketed with fresh, light snow (sort of like the "cold smoke" powder variety of epic ski days). The sun was low in the the bright, clear-blue sky. The result was a carpet of glitter and sparkle as the rays of light bounces off the snow crystals. Every time that it happened it was like seeing it new for the first time. And the best part - I got to share it with my pals in our loosely formed Sunday Morning Run Club.

Here's to hoping that we all have a year filled with magical runs.

The Muddy Buzzard