Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Sum Of The Parts

Did my yearly summation of my running log.

Miles for the year - 1,611 (2nd lowest in my 30+ years of keeping a log)

Days of 0 miles - 57 (not suprisingly - the 2nd high total in the 30+ years)

Cumulative miles in career as of 12/31/11 - 79,679

Number of races = 5

Number of long runs (> or = to 12 miles) = 7 (not sure; but, probably lowest of last 30+ years)

Minutes (Hours) of Alternative Exercise (due to foot stress fracture) = 760 minutes (12.67 hours)

Not really the numbers I had hoped for htis year.

But, the 2011 log numbers are now behind me.  Time to be optimistic about 2012 and look for better things starting tomorrow.

The Muddy Buzzard

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Making The Best Of A Bad Situation

So - two weeks down in the boot - at least 2 more to go.  Then, probably another 4 to 6 before I'm back to running. 

As soon as I found out that I would be booted up, I took a day to wallow in self pity.  What the hell.  I've only had a few injuries that have required significant amounts of non-running time - far less than most runners who have been doing this as long I have.  So, I figured I was due at least a 24-hour period of laying around saying why or why did this have to happen to me.

But, I pretty quickly decided that it was then time to move forward.  And, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to find a way to achieve some general fitness goals.  For the last couple of years, I've notice some general lack in overall muscle strength and power, stride length and overall flexibility.

So, while I can't be running, I've added a whole host of exercises to my daily routine.  I'm getting in about an hour a day of workout in.

I've been starting with a series of dynamic flexibility drills.

Then, I move onto a routine (which varies pretty much every day) that involves some combination of core work, leg strength work, hip strength and flexibility and some light upper body work.

I then go directly onto the recumbent bike (my boot fits into the pedal straps) for 30 minutes or more of work.  This usually involves 5 to 10 minutes of warm-up at low resistance.  Then I'll do 20 to 25 minutes of some form of interval work.  I try to up the resistance during the hard sections (while always maintaining 90 rpm's) and trying to get my hard rate up into the mid 120's or low 130's (at a minimum).

Then, I finish up with some static stretching.

On top of that, I've been having 2 or 3 days a week where I have to put in 30 minutes of snow shoveling (per day).  And, I've had several days in the last 2 weeks where I've spent 60 to 90 minutes of splitting wood (which is now behind me since I have all the wood split).

It turns out that I've been able to get in quite a bit of work in spite of the added bulk of the boot. 

So, I'm hopeful that coming out the other side of this thing I'll have improved my overall weight to strength ratio; improved my overall flexibility; improved my knee stability through increased leg strenght; and, maintained some basic level of cardiovascular fitness.

Only time will tell; but, I'm feeling good that this time off running - and forced use of alternate training methods/opportunities - will set me up for a fitter, stronger Muddy Buzzard for 2012.

Until then, see you in the gym, on the machines and the mats

The Muddy Buzzard

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Something Missing

So, something seems to be missing from my Christmas day today.  What oh what could it be?

How about an Xmas day run - for the first time in many, many years I won't be heading out on the roads this holiday morning.  In fact, I can't really remember a Christmas over the last 30 years or so that I haven't gotten out for my miles. 

But, that's what a metatarsal stress fracture will do to you.  Not much running to be done in das boot.

Don't worry though - I'll find a break between now and dinner to get in 30 minutes or so on the stationary bike at the gym.  Especially with it being Sunday, need to worship the mileage gods (hopefully the stationary bike will placat them) and attend services in the Church Of The Blue Dome (with the windows in the gym, I can see the Blue Dome - so, we'll have to call that good!!).

See you (eventually) on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to one and all from the The Muddy Buzzard.

We're having a white christmas here in the northwest.

Wonderful morning with Erin, Zoe and Erin's mom (Peg).  Skyped with Nick and Katie.

The 4 cats and the dog are all in the house.  The music is playing.  The gift wrap is on the floor.

All is well.

The Muddy Buzzard

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Limping Buzzard

Saw the doctor yesterday.  And, the news was not so good.  Took a x-ray of my right foot; and, as I feared, there was a stress fracture of the bone at the base of the 5th metatarsal.

Fortunately, it was a complete fracture, and there was no displacement of movement of the bone.  And, since I haven't run in two weeks or so, you could already see evidence of healing.

But, am now in a walking boot for the next 4 weeks.  And, the visiting orthopod suggests between 2 and 3 months before running again.  Turns out, due to the location of the fracture, it's susceptible to re-fracturing if too much stress is put on it too soon.  So, looks like my winter is shot.

Now, need to find some way to try to stay fit while I heal.  Am going to try elliptical and stational bike to see if I can do them in the boot.  Sure hope so.  And, expect to be able to do many of my normal core and stenghtning exercises.

Here's my fashionalble new non-running footwear:

The Buzzard's Waling Boot

BTW - that's a Wulfman sock poking out to say hi!

So, even though it may be a while..................see you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Limping Buzzard

Hasn't been the best month for the Buzzard. 

Early in the month - saw the cardiologist for a 6-month follow up visit.  Haven't seen any improvement in cardiac function.  And, they are once again talking about a defibrillator.  I'm working to get a 2nd opinion before making any decisions - but, it really wasn't the news that I was wanting to hear.

On the upside, the doc's didn't put any restrictions on my exercise or workout routines.

But, my own body is doing that to me.  By the end of XC season, was having some problems with pain on the outside of my rigth foot.  Was more or less holding it together through the end of the season - but, went on a trail run with Julie Gilchrist, Mike Foote and Anders Brooker the morning of the NXN regional meet in Boise and that seemed to put it over the edge.  In the last couple of weeks, it's gotten to the point of not allowing me to run.  So, have an appointment with the doc on Tuesday to see if there is any type of stress fracture.  Here's to hoping for the best.

And, here's to hoping that the holidy season and the first of the year see the Buzzard healthy and ready to be back out on the roads, tracks and trail.

The Muddy Buzzard

Montanan's Lite Up XC, Road & Ultras

Been a big last week for Montanan's on the running front.

On December 3rd, Mike Wolfe of Helena won the North Face Endurance Challenge 50-Mile Championhsip in San Francisco.  Wolfe took down some of the big names in the ultra world, including Dakota Jones and Geoff Roes.  Also representing MT was Mike Foote of Helena - who scored a big 9th place overall finish.  Results are here:

On the 4th, Sarah Graves of Ballantine (outside of Billings), successfully fulfilled her 4+ year quest to qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials.  Having made multiple attempts at the "B" standard of 2:46:00 - she had come close on several occasions - running a couple of races in the low 2:47 range (and, one in the high 2:46's I believe).  On Sunday, she ran a spectacular 2:44:25 with even splits of 1:22:11 & 1:22:14.  Congratulations to Sarah.  Good luck in Houston.  Reults here:

This past weekend was the USATF Club Championship Cross Country meet in Seattle.  Multiple Montanan's were present.  In the master's women's side, Jenny Newton, Mary Thane and Jennifer Burke competed as a team for Mountain West TC and brought home a 3rd place team tropy.

Lois Ricardi Keller was part of the 3rd place Club Northwest team in the women's open division.

On the men's side, former Montann's Brent Winegar and Kevin Murphy also competed for the Club Northwest teams.

Also, this past weekend, Makena Morley of Bigfork placed 9th in the Footlocker Cross Country Championships in San Diego.  She was the highest placing fresman in the meet.

All in all, a pretty impressive last week for Montanan's.  The Big Sky studs shows that they belong on the national stage.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Costa Rica Baby

The Buzzard took a nice little break to Costa Rica over the last week.  It was a big trip for the family.  In attendance were me and my wife, my brother and his family; and, my older sister and her family (including her 3 boys, 2 daughters in law, and 3 grand kids).  There were 17 total of us and it was largely a celebration of my parent's 60th wedding anniversary this summer.  It may be the last big trip we get to take with our parents; and, we enjoyed it thoroughly.

The week was dominated by lots of reading, relaxing and good eats.  But, we still had time to fit in a bit of fun.  Zip-Lining though the jungle canopy, snorkling at Isla Tortuga, swimming in the ocean, exploring the beach, and shopping in Montezuma.

Here was our beach outside of our rented house:

And, here is the beach area where I did my core work, strenght exercises and stretching every day.  Not a bad workout room!!!!

But, now the Buzzard is back to reality - sub-freezing temps, freezing fog and the dreaded four letter word - WORK :-(

It was a great break though and the first extended time off in a couple of years.  It was well worth the time with my family and the trip will be remembered for some time.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tottin' In The Magic City

Congrats to Kelly Fulton in his debut as a race director.  Getting tired of seeing folks from Billings having to travel all the way to Bozeman to get in a Thanksgiving Day race (Huffin For Stuffin) - he decided to do somethng about it.  And so, about 10 months ago, the idea of the Run! Turkey Run! was born.

Talk about a resounding success - over 1,500 registered finishers (with a couple hundred more that didn't get registered due to overwhelming race morning demand).  Great local press (see Billings Gazette story at ), good competition, fun social aspect, great fund raising cause (all proceeds went to the Billings Food Bank).  And, the Buzzard's favorite - post race adult beverages courtesy of local breweries.

It's pretty much everything that Billings area runners could hope for to kick off their day of feating and football.

Up front, the race was fast and fairly competitive.  Matt Adams (MSU alum) took the win in a speedy 15:11.  Clearly, he's kept up the training since his Bobcat days.  Second place wen to local stud Alan King in 16:22 with third place going to Zach Hunter in 16:52.  1st Master was Ian Blair of Billings with a nice sub-18 clocking (17:54).

The women't win went to Nicole Lair in 19:23. 

Great job Kelly.  And kudos to the Billing community for getting behind the event.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Gone Too Long

Funny how life sometimes gets in the way of things you enjoy.  That's been the case for the last couple of months with my ability to post. 

Coaching XC at Plains HS takes a fair bit of my free time.  And my professional life has been busier this year than at any other time since we moved to NW Montana.  And, there's always plenty of things to be done around the house and property.  All of those are good things - it's just that they don't leave me much free time.

That's meant that something's gotta give.  And, unfortunately - that's meant that the buzzard hasn't pecked at the keyboard keys in a while.  And, I'm not too thrilled about that.  I like putting my thoughts down on (digital) paper and enjoy trying to keep up with the MT running and racing scene.  I'm going to try to do better - more for my sake than anything.  Writing in this blog is a stress reliever and "fun" thing for me to do.  And, hey - we all need a bit more fun and pleasure in our lives.

Which then segue's me into thinking about a whole lot of fun that I had this fall.  It started on the 3rd week of October at the MT High School XC Championships.  One of the advantages of being a coach is being right in the thick of the day's activities.  I had a great time with "my kids" from Plains High School.  The individual highlight was the 3rd place finish in the Class B division by Carter Montgomery.  But, just as much fun was hanging out with the kids at our post race dinner at Famous Daves.  Being with these kids helps to keep my young and can be just plain fun.  With the group of kids that I've had the last 3 years, it's been way more laughs than tears - which is a good thing.

The next weekend was a road trip to Great Falls for Montana Cup.  Racing at the Cup is always a highlight for the year (even on years like this where my racing was the equivalent of a big steaming pile of dog poo).  But, more than the racing is the ability to see a wide swath of friends from all around the state.  One of the great things that this sport has blessed me wih is friends and acquaitenances from all corners of the state.  And, Montana Cup is the place where I get to see many of them all in one place. 

After a "free" weekend - it was back on the road with another bunch of high school kids (comprised of Carter Montgomery of Plains and the Missoula Hellgate varsity boys and girls teams) to go to the Nike Cross Regional Meet in Boise.  4 cars of parents and friends drove down 14 boys and girls (7.5 hours each way) to compete against runners from all over the NW.  [It was 8.5 hours down for our car as we missed the turn to a bit of a short cut and took the long scenic route :-) ]  On race morning had a great sunrise run with Julie Gilcrhist, Aders Brooker and Mike Foote in the Boise Foothills.  Great trails as the sun rose over Boise on a crisp, calm morning - pretty great way to start your day.  In my car it was me and 6 high school boys - and, let me tell you - that much crazed testosterone in one car for hours on end makes for some interesting discussion and body noises!!!

Then, a couple more weeks, and here we are at Thanksgiving.  Early in the week my brother-in-law and nephew came to town to hunt; and, I got to spend a few hours in the mountains.  Then, my Zoe came home for 5 days.  It's nice to have her home from College for a few days.  We had a nice Thanksgiving morning hunt in the mountains close to home.  Then, dinner at the home of my wife's uncles.  Most of her side of the family was around and it was a pleasant afternoon. 

So, life for the last month has been awfully full for the Buzzard.  Full in many ways - activity, work, friends, family, memories and more. 

See you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Big Kid Kamping

For the 3rd time since 2005, a group of Montana distance runners got together for a weekend of running, story telling, imbibing, and hiking.  Following on the heels of Camp Waterloo (2005) and Camp Vermillion (2008) the Helena crew (led by Pat Judge and Jeff Thomas) hosted Camp Vigilante. 

Starting Friday night, we met at the end of York Road east of Helena in the Big Belt Mountains; and, took over 3 camp sites in Vigilante Campground.  Present for the full weekend were Pat Judge, Jeff Thomas, Lila Thomas (solidly representing the female side), Alan King, Evan Eck, Thomas Jodoin, Ray Hunt and Josh Panasuk (representing the kiddie crew).  For day campers, we had Chris Colberg (Saturday and Sunday morning runs) and Jesse Zentz (Sunday morning run).  On Friday night we were even blessed with a visit by Peter Dan Sullivan.  [However, his visit was made less stellar due to the fact that he arrived sans any home brew :-(  ]

Friday started with a nice 6-mile run up the Trout Creek Trail (which takes off right from the campground).  Pat, Thomas and Josh got out ahead of the rest of the crew (with Ray tagging along on his mountain bike).  Tony, Jeff and Evan got up a bit later in the afternoon.  We then waited for Alan, who was about an hour behind the rest of the crew.......................Funny Story:  Alan calls me up en route to Helena.  We meet up in Townsend and we're going to follow each other up to the camp (since neither of us had been there before, we figured that there was safety in numbers!).  As we meet in Townsend, he realizes that he left all of his clothes at home.  Running clothes, underwear, shoes, socks.  All he has is what he's wearing in the car.  So - he had to make a side trip into Helena to visit Target and Famous Footwear.  [Sorry to throw you under the bus Al; but, figured Dave Coppock would be happy to hear of another Billings runner that had a challenging road trip.]

Then, it was on to some dinner, a few brews and swapping of stories.  Oh yeah - and the seeting of the Big Honkin' Tent.  Jeff Thomas once again brought out his old World War II surplus, canvas, wall tent.  It's a monster.  But, it's great to have when you want a bit of protection from the sun or rain.

Saturday morning is when the real fun started.  Things didn't start too early; but, by 9:00 a.m. Ray had divided up the runners into four two-man teams for an interval relay workout.  The campgound had a nice 550 meter +- loop around the perimeter.  The first 200 meters were dowhnill t flat, then 200 or so of moderate uphill, with a nice final 150 or so of downhill.  But, given the relay and format and the competitive nature of the group assembled there was only one possible outcome of the workout - as quoted by Clubber Lang in Rocky III..................................................PAIN.

So, here were the teams.  Team Teeny Bopper = Evan Eck and Josh Panasuk.  Team Vigilante = Chris Colberg and Pat Judge.  Team Trail Kings = Alan King and Jeff Thomas.  Team Birdmen = Thomas Joidon and Tony Banovich.  Pretty quickly the relays turned into two "races" in one.  The Teeny Boppers and the Viginlantes were in a tight battle right from the start.  They were quite evenly matched and ran neck to neck all the way.  In the end, the experience of Colberg and Judge won out on the final leg of their cat and mouse game.  The other two teams were more of a tortoise and hare sort of affair.  Big Bird Joidon went out hard against Jeff The Mountain Goat Thomas and built a bit of a lead.  Then, Tony The Muddy Buzzard Banovich tried unsuccessfully to hold off Alan The King.  And, that's how it went for the 6 laps of the relay.  In then end, Alan blew by Tony in the last 200 of the last leg and easily secured the 3rd place finish.

After a bit of a cool-down, the runners were treated to a breakfast of Omelette's In A Bag by Lila Thomas.

Mixin' Up Some Bags O'Omelettes

Next up was some Montana Cup business.  With 4 of the 7 Regions/Cities represented (Butte, Helena, Billings and Kalispell), we had a quorum.  So, we took the opportunity to review the status of the event, talk about the 2011 event (to be held in Great Falls) and visit about any tweaks that could make the race even better.

After being fed and getting rehydrated, the crew headed off for the next adventure - a 12-mile hike (round trip) to Hanging Valley.  It was pretty hot out; and, some of the crew had dogs that weren't handling the heat too well.  So, the puppy mill headed back after getting in about two miles.  Meanwhile, Pat, Tony, Alan and Josh did some hard hiking with the goal of getting back in time for 6:30 p.m. dinner.  It was some tough hiking; but, in the end it was all worth it.  The last quarter of a mile was through a narrow canyon bordered by towering cliffs of the Madison Limestone Formation.  And, then - the trail abruptly ends at a fenced area that keeps you from stepping off a several hundred foot cliff.  The view (which just happened to look down into the end of the Trout Creek trail taht we ran on Friday night) was spectacular. 

The View down into the Trout Creek drainage from the end of the the Hanging Valley trail

Alan King, Josh Panasuk, The Muddy Buzzard and Pat Judge at Hanging Valley

Running a bit short on time, we really had to hump it back to camp.  On some tired legs, we ended up jogging in the last 2 miles to try to make it in time for dinner.  Which, was not to be missed.  Nikki and Eric Eck - Evan's parent's - volunteered to drive up from Helena and bring us a fantastic dinner of Chicken Parmesan, Twice Baked Potato's and Fresh Fruit Salad.  Add a Sam Adam's Boston Lager and it was the ideal refueling meal at the end of a long day.

Then, it was on to some videos.  Ray had a bit of footage from Wulfman.  Pat had a nice vid from the 2008 Cup.  Then we got to see a great 5,000 with Pre, Shorter and George Young from the 1971 AAU Meet, the 1971 Dream Mile at the Penn Relays with Marty Liquori and Jim Ryun, and a quirky video about ultra runner Anthony Krupickza (sorry if I hammered the spelling of his name there).  By then, the beers made us all a bit sleepy - puls we heard the trail calling for Sunday's run on the Refigerator Canyon trail and into the Gates of the Mountains Wilderness.

It was a 30-minute drive from camp to trailhead - where we met up with Jesse Zentz (Billings Native, UM Alum, current sports writer at the Helena Independent record).  Off we went at 10:30, already about 80 degrees out, heading up Refrigerator Canyon and into the Gates of The Mountains Wilderness.  The trail featured plenty of  climb going out - which meant cranking down the pace when coming back in.  It was a bit hot out; but, it was a great final run for camp.

Slot through the rocks on the lower part of Refigerator Canyon

How many people ever get to see wilderness areas?
And we got to run several miles into it!!!!

But, camp wasn't quite done yet.  We had to do some refueling - and York Burgers and drafts of Cold Smoke Scotch Ale were the perfect recipe.  Then - the super secret manly challenge.  So secret that Pat Judge wouldn't share the details; and, turns out he ended up being the only one with the necessary tools for jumpinf off the York Bridge and into the Missouri River.  So, even without towels and water shoes, 5 of the campers were up to the challenge.  Pat, Tony, Thomas, Alan and Evan all made the stupendous "Leap of Death".

Big Bird (left) and The Muddy Buzzard (right) take flight off the York Bridge

And the, it was time to break down camp and head back home and the real world.  But, what a great way to spend a weekend.  Hanging out with some pals, runs on great trails, stories and laughter.  What more could you want.

My recommendation is that when you get the chance for this type of camp/gathering/fellowship/ect. - take advantage of it.  These types of opportunities make for great memories and great friendships.  Good times indeed.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Life Is Good

Had a chance to visit with Peter Dan Sullivan last night.  One of the topics was the age old questions - how are things going.  The primary focus of our discusison was with regards to my cardiac issues and it's affect on my running.  But, we also got to talking about life in general.  And, after thinking some more about our converation - I'd have to say that things are going all right.

Here's been my first half of the year:

In March, my son got married to a fantastic young girl.

In mid May, he graduated with a B.S. in Antropology and was accepted into the Doctoral studies program in Human Genetics at the University of Chicago.

In late May, our daughter graduated as co-Salutatorian of Plains High School and will attend Montana State University to study biosciences.

This spring, I coached the Plains H.S. track team - which included a double state champion, and 3 other athletes who brought home all-state honors.

I was cleared to return to full training.  And, while my physiological issues aren't completely resolved, I have begun the long slow process of getting back to racing fitness after 9 months of limited training.

On this past Thursday, I was part of a suprise party to celebrate my parent's 60th wedding anniversary.

On Saturday night, I was able to celebrate the wedding of my good friend (we've known each other 33 years this fall) Jeff Thomas to a wonderful woman.

In a few weeks I'll celebrate my 26th anniversary to the love of my life - Erin.

And, at the end of the month, I'll spend a long weekend with some of my favorite running pals at a semi-regular group get together.

Through it all, I have a job that I enjoy at a company that does great work with great people.

So, yeah - I'd say that things are pretty good.

And, while the next half of the year approaches and life carries on......................I'll see you on the roads, tracks and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Wulf Was Howlin' Today

WOW!!!! That pretty much sums up the results from the 4th Annual Wulfman’s CDT-14K Trail Race.  The race takes place on the Continental Divide Trail between Homestake and Pipestone Passes east of Butte, Montana.  Named in honor of John “The Wulfman” Wulf, the Godfather of Butte’s Piss & Moan Runners, the race is held each year on the Saturday closest to the summer solstice, the anniversary of The Wulfman’s final group run.

Run in opposite directions every other year, this year saw the race in the northbound direction between Pipestone and Homestake.  Although not considered a technical trail, the course makes up for it with a combination of climbs and altitude.  With a starting elevation of 1935 meters, the course rises almost 400 meters in a steady climb over the first 5.5 kilometers.  That leads to a series of ups and downs over the last 8.5 kilometers; but, with a net downhill to the finish at 1905 meters.

However, being a single track trail all the way – the race start has to be adjusted to accommodate the 214-person field.  Based on predicted times and consideration by the race director (Ray Hunt), the runners are seeded to go out on the course in 10-second intervals.  With the faster runner’s going out first, this allows all of the runner’s great access to the trail with very little needs for passing or other potential conflicts.

The 2009 running of this route was held in a cold, steady rain that made for some miserable racing conditions.  Not so this year.  Although a bit breezy in places – race day was cool and dry.  And, in spite of the massive amounts of snow through the winter and the rain this spring – the course was mostly dry and fast.  Just a couple of notoriously swampy spots held any mud.  And, none of those were bad enough to have a negative impact on the race.

The result – a spate of fast times with a rash of course records.  As with the race preview, we’ll start with the women’s event.  The race at the front of the pack fell together much like predicted.  Sarah Graves of Ballantine started the race 40 seconds ahead of co-favorite Michele Bazzanella of Butte.  Bazz got several glimpses of Sarah on some of the switchbacks on the course.  And, she gradually closed the gap ever so slightly throughout the race.  But, in the end, Sarah prevailed by a mere 23 seconds – 68:30 to 68:53.

It was a great race between the two.  Michele came into the race as defending champion; and, has proven herself over the last couple of years as a trail racing specialist.  Sarah made a great transition from the roads.  Having run 2:46:20 (and missing the Olympic Trials Marathon qualifying standard by a mere 20 seconds) at this year’s Eugene Marathon – she clearly has some wheels.  In the end, Sarah’s speed was just too much for Michelle’s trail acumen.

Making a big jump in performance was Beth Schumate of Clancy.  Moving up two spots from her 2010 5th place, Beth was just 37 seconds back of Bazz by the finish – after starting 90 seconds back.  That’s some big movement over the 14 Kilometers to get to the finish at 69:30.

The top 5 was rounded out by a couple of teenagers (but not strangers to the event).  Olivia Wood (16) of Anaconda moved up 3 spots with her 70:16; and, 18-year old Bekah Kirtley of Fromberg broke the 71 minute barrier with her 70:57.

The top 3 men finished in exactly the order in which they started.  Lynn Reynolds of Dillon and the U of M track and XC teams was out first.  But, Jimmy Grant of Missoula made a hard charge in the first 5 kilometers and was nipping at Lynn’s heels at the top of the switchbacks.  But, at that point, Lynn turned on the jets and blasted away from Jimmy for the win in 54:28.  Jimmy held on for a close second, just 35 seconds back in 55:03.  (Grant’s time of 55:03 bodes well for his projected attempt at a sub-2:30 marathon in 3 weeks at the Missoula Marathon.)

Both runners were under the old course record of 56:29 – set by Thomas “Big Bird” Jodoin in 2009 – and they were the first two runners to complete the course in under 56:00 (sub-4:00 per km).  The CR and the sub-56 prime normally would have earned Lynn a $150 cash prize bonus.  But, due to his collegiate eligibility and NCAA criteria, Lynn had to turn away the cash and settle for a round of applause and a hearty pat on the back.

Speaking of Big Bird, Thomas hung on for third in a fine time of 56:47 – just 18 seconds outside of his CR from 2 years ago.  He seemed to race well; but, Lynn and Jimmy were just too quick this day.  In 4th was Big Bird’s Vigilante Track Club Teammate Hunter Nelson of Helena at 57:15.  And, rounding out the top 5 was 48-year old Scott Creel of Bozeman in 57:29 (more on Scott below).

All in all, 7 guys ran under 1:00; and, it took a sub-62:30 to crack the top 10.  A big, big jump in the level of racing at this great event.

The master’s races were based on two criteria.  There were the traditional age-group results.  But, the primary awards were based on age-graded criteria.  In this format, your time is adjusted based on your age – trying to equalize your time against those of the younger, under-40 crowd.

For the women’s master’s – the age group ace was Nicole Hunt.  Her 77:45 was a solid run (good enough for 9th overall amongst the women).  What really makes it special is the fact that she is in the 2nd trimester of pregnancy – with twins no less!?!?!!?  Holy $&!#  It just proves – a stud is a stud is a stud.  Rounding out the top 5 in the 40+ division was Elizabeth Chura of Gallatin Gateway in 82:53, Wendy Ferris Schoonen of Butte (who turned 40 on race day) in 86:04.5, Marnie Johnson of Belgrade in 86:04.6; and, Christine Evans of Bozeman in 86:37.

But, the age-graded awards were “owned” by ageless Debbie Magilke of Billings.  A fixture on the Montana running and racing scene for over 35 years, Debbie was the 8th overall master in 88:41.  But, apply her age adjustment and she hit 65:58 – smashing the old age-graded record of 68:57 – and garnering her $75 in the process.

Following Debbie in the age-graded results were Sherry Vogel of Butte at 67:17, Elizabeth Chura of Gallatin Gateway in 69:47, Momma Hunt in 74:33; and, Marnie Johnson in 75:17.

The big fireworks for the master’s was definitely on the men’s side.  4 of the top 10 overall were of the over 40 ilk.  The top of the over 40 crowd was led by Scott Creel of Bozeman with an incredible 57:29.  Scott has been quiet on the racing scene the last couple of years.  But, with his impressive wins and course record at the Bridger Ridge Run, he established himself as one of the best trail runners in the state.  And, his February race at the Montana Men’s Master’s Mile showed he was back in the groove.

2nd behind Scott was Pat Judge of Helena, himself pulling in a sub one hour run with his 59:28 and 7th overall.  Mike Telling (Dillon) was 8th overall and 3rd Master with his 60:41.  Butte’s Jeff Braun was 4th master in 62:29 – also breaking into the top 10 overall.  Rounding out the top 5 over 40 was Paul Koch of Colorado Springs (and an old friend of Judge’s) with his 65:37.

But, it was the age graded results where Scott really blew things out of the water.  The old age graded record was 56:13 by Kirk Keller.  And, on the southbound course last year, Ray Hunt ran what was considered a stratospheric 53:48 age-graded.  Scott reached into a whole new level of the atmosphere………………………at 48 (to be 49 in just a few day) Scott’s time adjust to and incredible 51:21.  This resulted in prize money of $75 for the age graded record and another $75 for the 56:00 age graded prime.

The top 5 age graded looked a lot like the overall 40+ results.  Judge (41) at 56:08, Braun (47) at 56:16 and Telling (42) in 56:51.  Kirk Keller (at 52, the old northbound age graded record holder) cracked the adjusted top 5 with his 57:32.  In all 8 guys found their way under 1 hour with age adjusted times.  Pretty nifty running for some old guys.

The race clearly hit some new levels of competition and popularity.  With several new records being set, the performances at all levels took on a whole new dimension.  And, the 240 available slots were filled by April 30th – over a month earlier than 2010.  With great organization, a great trail, fantastic awards and a top-notch post race picnic – it’s no wonder that this is becoming a “must do” event on the Montana racing circuit.

The Wulfman would have been pleased to see all his people having such a great time out along the backbone of the continent.

A full complement of race results (cumulative, male, female, age group, age graded, etc.) can be found at  A good selection of race comments (and photos coming soon??) can be found on the Wulfman’s CDT 14K Trail Race Facebook page.  Make sure to check them out.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Getting Ready To Worship The Wulf

Wulfman’s CDT-14K

2011 Race Preview

So, who’s going to rule the divide this year?  Can Big Bird regain the overall title again this year and defend his odd-year crown?  Will some new faces to the event master the route from Pipestone to Homestake?  Will Bazz’s trail acumen and altitude training overcome the road speed of Sarah the flatlander?  Can the old men make up ½ of the top ten finishers?

In an event that has become known for hot and exciting racing in its short, 4-year history – 2011 looks to continue the trend.  Both the men’s and women’s races have some intriguing story lines.  So, without further adieu, let’s get to the preview.

Starting with the women – we look to have a real contrast in styles in the potential front runners.  The favorite role would have to go to Michelle Bazzanella (Bazz), with long-time connections to Helena & Butte.  She’s the 2010 champ (Homestake to Pipestone route) and has finished no lower than 3rd place in any of the first 3 editions of the race.  As the Muddy Buzzard’s #4 open women’s runner of the year, she’s a classic trail runner whose stride is perfect for the course ups and downs; and, she should have no problem with the altitude (varying between 6,360’ and 7,700’).  She’s already proven her trail mettle in 2011 with a solid 2nd place female finish at the Don’t Fence Me In 12K in Helena.

In contrast to Bazz the mudder, you have Sarah Graves the roadie (and the Buzzard’s #2 open women’s runner of the year for 2010).  With a pedigree that includes a 2:47 marathon PR and participation in the elite field of the Boston Marathon, Sarah has put out some top level performances at all distances from the mile to the marathon.  While she mostly sticks to the roads, her win at the 2010 Montana Cup shows that she can also hammer on the trails.  But, can she overcome the altitude and Bazz’s familiarity with the course?  And, will these two push each other to a new course record (1:04:10 set by Nicole Hunt in 2009) (which could mean a $150 pay day for hitting the sub-65:00 premium time and the CR)?

As exciting as the competition between these two could be – let’s not forget about some of the other runners.  Including Bazz, this year’s race includes 5 of the top-10 finishers from 2010.  Maurie McLaughlin of Butte finished 3rd last year; and, has the benefit of being altitude trained and familiar with the course.  Beth Shumate of Clancy quietly shows up at trail runs around the state and consistently finishes near the front.  Can she improve on her 5th place finish from 2010?  And, can all of these ladies hold off the charge from the younger crowd?  Bekah Kirtley (18) of Fromberg and Olivia Wood (16) of Anaconda finished 6th and 7th respectively last year.  Wood has the #12 all time performance on the N-S course and comes off a great season for the Copperhead XC & Track squads.  We also have a potential dark horse in Haley Chura of Atlanta.  Chura’s sister (Hannah) and mother (Elizabeth) of Gallatin Gateway were both top 15 finishers in the 2009 version of the N-S course.  Could they have given Haley some tips on the course and strategy??

And, let’s not forget about our “mature” ladies.  The over-40 race has some unique twists and turns of its own.  As the Buzzard’s 2010 Open Women’s Runner of the Year, Nicole Hunt would normally be a hands down favorite for the master’s title (if not the open title).  But, she’s currently in the second trimester of her 2nd pregnancy; and, she’s slowed down just ever so slightly.  Will she still be able to place near the top of the master’s category even while running for three (that’s right – Nicole & Ray are expecting twins!!!!)?

Or, will the N-S course’s #1 Age-Graded master, Elizabeth Chura of Gallatin Gateway, pull out the win.  We also have Demaris Taylor of Helena returning – having placed 13th overall in 2010.  And, let’s not forget Sherry Vogel of Butte.  Or, Billings’ own ageless wonder – Debbie Magilke.  The age-graded master’s placings should prove very interesting indeed.

The biggest fireworks of the day are likely to come at the front of the men’s race.  2010 champ and University of Montana steeplechaser is back to take a whack at the Pipestone to Homestake route.  Reynolds has got some young legs, which tend to be a help on the long downhill sections of the race.  And, his performances in the steeplechase show that he’s fit and fast.  Plus, the coordination and endurance that are necessary to run elite steeples tend to be a pretty big benefit on the trails.

Of course, he’ll have to contend with 2008 and 2009 Wulfman Champ and 2010 runner-up Thomas “Big Bird” Jodoin of Helena (the Buzzard’s 2010 #2 Male Runner of the Year).  Big Bird had a bit of an injury snafu at the AOH St. Pat’s Day Run in Anaconda in March.  But, as evidenced by his win at the Don’t Fence Me in 12K in mid-May, the hammy seems to be coming around and Thomas should be ready to go.  He’s also the most experienced on this course; and, should be ready to rock and roll.

The third leg of the Wulfman trifecta team is likely to be Jimmy “The General” Grant.  Much like Sarah Graves on the women’s side, Jimmy is known as more of a roadie.  But, he has been known to put a foot in the dirt on occasion.  On the road, he’s had a very solid last couple of years.  He was the Buzzard’s Male Runner of the Year in 2009 and # 3 in 2010.  Already this year he scored a big win with his 31:39 10K at the Missoula Riverbank Run.  And, he followed that up with a 38:24 12-K at Bloomsday to finish 32 overall (out of 50,000 +). 

But, wait – just like a TV infomercial – that’s not all.  Including Reynolds and Jodoin, 6 of the top 10 finishers from the 2010 Wulfman will return this year, and 10 of the top 15.  Plus, we have a new face in Christian Heck of Bozeman, 2008 3rd-placer Dewey Peacock of Bozeman, trail ace Brian Wieck of Helena, 2008 4th-placer Matt Edwards of Bozeman and youngster Josh Panasuk of Butte.

But the story within the story on the men’s side may very well be the shuffling of the old farts.  As it has been every year, the master’s field is looking to be deep and fast.  And, the sub-plot will be to see how many of the over 40 crowd can crack the overall top 10.  In 2008 and 2009, there were 2 masters in the top 10.  In 2010, there were 4 in the top 10 and 2 in the top 5.  Some of the best of Montana’s old men will be at the CDT-14K. 

41-year old Pat Judge of Helena is having a racing resurgence since turning 40.  His last 2 years have probably been amongst his best since Y2K.  The Muddy Buzzard’s #2 Master’s Runner of the Year, Pat will be running at the outside edge of his typical racing range.  And, he’s typically more of a road and track guy; but, solid performances at the Don’t Fence Me In 5-K and the Montana Cup show that Pat can also crank it up on the trails.

Mike Telling (42) of Dillon has a history of fast and furious racing at the Wulfman with overall placings of 2nd, 7th and 5th.  History would show that when Mike toes the line, he’s ready to race.  And, that’s doubly so when he races along the backbone of the continent.  As the 2010 # 3 runner on the Buzzard’s Master’s list, Telling clearly has the pedigree.

Jeff Braun of Butte, at 47, has had an incredible last couple of years on the racing scene – at a wide variety of distances and surfaces – good enough to rank as the Buzzard’s #5 Master of the year in 2010.  Can Jeff continue his string of fast finishes?  Living and training in Butte, Jeff will have altitude training in his ditty bag – together with an intimate knowledge of the CDT.

Kirk Keller, 50, of Three Forks has the #1 over-40 Age-Graded performance at the CDT-14K.  After some injuries in 2010, will Kirk be ready to return to form in 2K11?  He’s been in the top 10 overall before – can he find that magic again.

But, the biggest factor in the master’s race could be the presence of Bozeman’s Scott Creel (48 – and just days away from B-day 49).  Scott has been on a bit of a racing hiatus in the last couple of years while he focused on his wildlife research, his kids, and some other outdoor pursuits.  But, he had a successful return to the track in February with his 3rd place finish at the Montana Men’s Master’s Mile (M4) in 4:42.  And, as the course record holder at the Bridger Ridge Run, Scott’s trail racing prowess and pain threshold are legendary.  If Scott’s at the starting line, look for him to be ready to hammer.

So, lot’s of excitement is brewing as we approach the 4th Annual Wulfman CDT-14K.  And, lots of questions will be answered on the morning of the 18th.  But, a few things we can be pretty certain of.  The racing will be hot and fast, the race management will be exemplary, the post race festival will be trail running’s best social event of the spring, and each and every one or the competitors will get their money’s worth.

The Buzzard is circling the skies above Butte and just waiting for the time to swoop in and take part in the suffer fest along the divide.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Breaking Ice & Breaking Wind

On a morning that lived up to the name of the race - the Ice Breaker Road Race took place last Sunday in Great Falls.

On the men's side, Ezkysas Sisay of Ethiopia took the win in a stellar time of 23:15.  Pulling in 2nd was Bernard Langat of Kenyan at 25:00.  But, the rest of the top 5 was comprised fully of Montanan's. 

Alan King picked up where he left off in 2010 - running 3rd in a speedy 26:02.

Alan King battles the snow at Ice Breaker

Next in was Pat Judge - hitting it big on both the open and master's scene.  His 27:20 was a most impressive time for an old guy :-)

And, it held off the charge of young buck Jesse Zentz's 27:21.  Jesse is a Billings West and UM grad.  For the last couple of years, he's been a sports writer in Boise.  He recently moved back to Montana and is writing sports for the Independent Record.  A nice welcome home race for Jesse.

Also cracking the top 10 was master's runner Jeff Braun with his 28:56.

On the women's side - Evelyne Lagat of Kenya won in 27:28.  Next up was Rachel Brewer of Great Falls in 30:02.  She was followed by Nicole Hunt (who also took the master's crown) in 32:16.  4th and 5th place also broke the 33:00 barrier - Great Fallsians (what do folks in GF call themselves) Marilee Woyth and Sandy Thomas hit 32:43 and 32:48 respectively.

King wasn't done with the racing however.  On a whim, he decidedc to do his own personal trifecta and won the 3-mile in 15:27 and the Mile in 4:23.  Not a bad day for Mr. King.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Beans and Walnuts

A few impressive performances by Montanan's on the big stage(s) last weekend.

First up was the track and field frenzy that is Mt. Sac.  Held each year in Walnut, CA - it is regularly one of the races that many of the top US runners use to kick off their outdoor track campaign.  Such was the case of the brother & sister steeplechase team of John and Lois Ricardi-Keller.  Both ran in the Elite divisions of the steeple - John placing 5th in 8:44.88 in the men's field; and, Lois hitting 10:12.85 in placing 7th on the women's side.

In the 1500, MSU's (and Laurel native) Patrick Casey ran 9th at 3:43.69 (the equivalent of about a 4:01 mile).  Included in the field were Chris Solinsky (the American Record holder at 10,000 meters) and Olympian Matt Tegenkamp.  9th place in this field was a stellar performance.

A couple of days later (Monday the 18th) was the Boston Marathon.  On a day of low temps and a strong, steady tailwind times were smoking fast.  With the men's winner at just over 2:03 and the women at slightly over 2:20, it was an incredibly fast day on this storied course. Included in those fast times were a few folks from the Big Sky state.

First in was a temporary Montana resident - Jacob Bradosky is currently a member of the Air Force who is stationed at Malmstrom Air Force base in Great Falls.  A past winner of the Marine Corps Marathon, Bradosky hit it big in Beantown - how about this for impressive - 2:21.11 and 25th overall (including a negative split racde of 70:56 and 70:15).

Next in was Gardiner native and MSU alum Josh Ricardi.  Running under 2:30 for the first time - he placed 65th overall and hit a super time of 2:27:48.  Great split of 73:41 and 74:07.

On the women's side, former MSU-Billings runner Lisa Minnehan of Billings hit 2:54 - placeing 57th in the women's field.

One of the performances of the day came from someone who isn't really a Montanan - but, she has a strong Montana connection.  So, figured I would give her some props anyway.  Many of you know Kelly Fulton of Billings.  Kelly is married to Elizabeth White (originally of Tacoma).  Elizabeth has a younger sister Caroline.  Caroline runs for the US Air Force.

Well, Caroline ripped it on Monday.  Running splits of 79:12/78:20, she hit a 2:37:32 to place 20th in the women's field.  That time was an auto qualifier for the Oly Marthon Trials in Houstone in January, 2012.  And, it currently has her sitting at position #9 on the US marathon lists.  Pretty damn impressive.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Run To Paradise

Here's a great opportunity to take in a trail race in the Buzzard's neck of the woods.  On Sundary, May 15th, The Eleven Miles To Paradise Trail Race will take place on the beautiful River Trail near and along the Clark Fork River between St. Regis and Paradise, Montana.

This is a great single track trail - rolling trail, lots of timber, a few open meadows, some great views of the Clark Fork River. 

It's a point to point race that will require shuttling.  But, the race organizers (Runner's Edge in Missoula) have an efficient shuttle plan all figured out.

The end of race activities will take place at Quinn's Hot Springs.  Good food, drink and soaking will be available.

Quinn's is also offering a good discount on lodging for folks wanting to stay the night before the event.

Race information can be found at

It's a race worth thinking aobut.

The Muddy Buzzard Buzzard

Continental Divide Running Clinic

So - you want to attend a great clinic on running and running performance?  In a great setting with some amazing trails (including the segment of the Continental Divide Trail used in the Wulfman 14K race)?  With a great camp staff (see more below)?  At a perfect time leading into the late summer and fall racing season?

If you're interested, check out this promotional video for the Continental Divide Running Clinic:

It will be held from the evening of Friday, July 22nd until noon on Sunday, July 24th at the Homestake Lodge outside of Butte.

Camp staff will include Kirk Keller - a competitor and coach in Montana for over 30 years; Jim Walker, PhD -Sports Science Director and former Oly Trials competitor; John Zombro - masters runner and owner of Zombro Physical Therapy; Casey Jermyn - MSU alum, multiple Big Sky Conference champion, owner of Bozeman Running Company; and, Julie Gilchrist - master runner and marathon champion.

It should be a good time and a great opportunity to learn more about improving your running and racing. 

If you are interested, contact Kirk Keller (Keller Coaching) at  (Also visit Coach Keller's website at

One other item of note - the great video was shot by two distance runners from MSU-Billings:  Daniel Lombardi and Ryan Blomback.  After checking out the clinic video, check out some of the other great stuff that they have produced.

The Muddy Buzzard

Good News For The Buzzard

Saw the cardiologist for a follow up visit on Tuesday the 5th.  At my last visit in March, I had an new echo cardiogram done where is it showed that my cardiac function had improved pretty significantly since my initial visits last fall.

With an ejection fraction now measuring somewhere in the 45% - 50% range - that puts me at near normal or mildly compromised.

Now, it does still mean that I'll need to stay on the drug therapy for at least 6 more months to a year (and maybe longer) to see if I can realize even more improvement to my heart function.  Although I'm not getting my hopes up, the doc suggests that I may continue to see improvement; and, there is some chance that I may get back to a normal ejection fraction in the 60% + range.

More importantly was his answer to my question at the end of the visit.  (Paraphrasing a bit, it went something like this):

Muddy Buzzard:  "Well, I would really like to get my mileage back up to normal, start back to some hard training and start competing again.  What do you think about that?"

Cardiologist:  "I want you to be careful and really pay attention to what your body is telling you.  But, with the improvements that we're seeing with the drug therapy..............................go ahead and do what you want."

Now, it got a little awkward when I then shrieked like a Justin Bieber fan, jumped in his arms and gave him a big wet one on the lips.  Funny, but he seemed to leave the exam room pretty quickly....................hmmmmmmm, wonder why.

Actually, we had a bit of a talk about that.  He's okay with me returning to full running and competition.  Again, he does want me to really pay attention to how I react physiologically.  And, the nature of the drugs that I'm taking (especially the beta blocker and the ace inhibitor) may very well may place some limits on my performance (due to the manner in which they tend to reduce blood pressure and heart rate).  But, outside of that, he feels that my test improvements pretty much eliminate any concerns that they had about things like sudden cardiac arrest and such.  As he put it - there's a world of difference between 35% ejection fraction and 45% to 50%.

So, consider the Buzzard to be one happy bird.  (Even did my first hard workout in months with my kids.  8 X 200 uphill repeats.  It hurt ---- in that familiar good hurt kind of way.)  Not sure where it will all lead; but, at least I'm not able to get back to training and pushing myself.  And, removes a bit of a dark cloud that was kind of lurking in the back of my mind as to my overall cardiac health.

Now the grand experiment of pushing the limits of personal endurance can begin again.  Oh Happy Days.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Is Big Bird Broken????

Sad news from Anaconda's AOH St. Patricks Day run on 3/12/11.

Thomas Jodoin, aka Big Bird, of Helena pulled off the repeat win in the 3-mile event.  For a guy who's run this event in the low 14's, he got away early and looked well on his way to a quick, easy win.

But, in the latter part of the race, Thomas had to pull up a couple of times with some hamstring troubles.  He held on for a close win over master's stud Pat Judge; but, the win came at a price.

Having fought hamstring issues over the years, it appears as though they've come back and reared their ugly head once again.  Post race comments by Jodoin suggest that the injury may be serious and may curtail his racing this season.

Let's hope it's not as bad as feared.  Big Bird is one of the good guys on the Montana racing scene and the Buzzard would hate to see him out of action in 2011.

Heal Thy Wing Big Bird

The Muddy Buzzard.

Whirlwinds and Fever

The Buzzard's had quite a ride over the last 3 weeks.  It all started on Sunday, March 6th.  Really felt bad all that day with chills, body aches and a fever.  Feelign a bit better by Monday, but still pretty wimpy; and, my sinuses were killing me.  But, didn't really have time for such nonsense.  This was Nick's wedding week and we had to head to Phoenix.  Tuesday, March 8th was a hectic day of work, packing,visit the doctor, pre-season track practice and loading into the car to head to Missoula to start our trip south.

Over the next several days we ran around the Phonenix-Mesa-Tempe-Scottsdale area as we helped the kids get ready for the big event.  I took a dose of antibiotics that I got from the doc; and, by the end of the week was feeling mostly nornal. Saturday the 12th was a day of emotion as I proudly watched my son take the next step on his own life journey.  The ceremony was fantastic and fun was had by all.

Nick and his new bride Katie

It's amazing how something like a wedding take take such an emotional toll on you.  Suprisingly, I cried like a baby through most of the ceremony and during the toasts.  I've never really responded that way before at a wedding; but, it's clearly a whole different ballgame when it's you own child. 

But, as taxing as the week had been - there was no rest for the weary.  Up early the next morning to get in a run - then off to the airport for a 12-hour travel day to get back home by about 9:30 p.m. 

Monday the 14th brought a day of work and the first day of track practice.  Follow that up with travel to Butte - as the first leg of a trip that required me to be in Billings by 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Tuesday and Wednesday saw me in Billings working on some corporate issues at the home office - then, off to Butte again on Wednesday night.  But, did have the chance to get in a run in Bozeman on Wednesday evening (just before dusk) as heavy snow came down during a spring storm.

Thursday was travel to Missoula for some work in the Garden City, to Plains by 3:30 for track practice, then a wrestling team banquet that night. 

Friday was back in the office to try to start getting caught up from the travel and PTO of the last couple of weeks, then track practice, then a community fundraising event in the evening.  Though all of this, had been feeling pretty good.  Was getting in some runs, even though my left piriformis was pissed at me from all the traveling, and figured I could get back to my normal routine after a weekend of good sleep.

Saturday the 19th started off pretty well.  Up early to do an optional practice with some of the track kids and to squeeze in my own run.  Then a long, but mostly relaxed day of getting caught up on administrative tasks for track.  Things were going along pretty well until about 7:00 p.m.  At that point, started to feel a bit crappy; but, figured I was just a bit tired.  Headed off to the High School Prom's Grand March at about 10:00.  (In a uniuqe bit of small town charm - parents and family head to the prom and watch as all the kids march across the dance floor.  Quirky but charming.)

By the time we got home, tings were not looking good.  Could tell that I was not feeling well.  And, by Sunday morning - it was clear - I was back to the point where I started two weeks earlier.  And, in fact, I was going backwards.  Chills, fever, body aches, muscle and joint pain, hacking cough.  Not a fun place to be.  Laid me low all day Sunday..................and all day Monday....................................and all day Tuesday.  Probably the first tme in about 10 years that I've missed a day of work for illnes ----- so, you know it must have been bad.  And, running was not event getting close to the edge of the radar.

By Wedneday, I was able to work a little bit; but, after 4 hours of work and track practice, I was wiped out.  Now up to 4 days off running.  Thursday was a bit of an improvement.  Made it through the day a bit better; and, was even up to tormenting a couple of my track kids.  Definately a good sign.

By Friday the 25th I was feelign about 80%.  Still a bit weak; and, not quite at the top of my game; but, I'm pretty comfortable at this point that I'm on the upward part of the spiral.

Yesterday was a pretty good day.  Got some chores done.  Got though some track tasks.  Did some internet browsing.  Even got in a run - 3 slow, easy miles - but a run none the less.  Was pretty tired by the end of the day; and, ended up in bed by about 9:30 (and then getting about 10 hours of sleep)

So, here we sit at the end of a crazy 3 weeks - most of which have devolved into nothing but a blur.  It's a cool, wet day (woke up to snow coming down).  But, I got a good night's sleep.  Feeling mostly good.  Getting ready to cut some wood and burn a slash pile.  Things are definately looking up.

Here's to hoping that the next few weeks are just a bit less intense and let me get back to a normal life.

In the meantime, see you on the roads, tracks and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard

Thursday, March 10, 2011

No Green On The Buzzard This Weekend

With all the St. Paddy's day run action this weekend; and, with the Butte Rat blood that runs through my veins, you'd think that I'd be all over the racing scene this weekend - wearin' some green; drinking some beer; spreadin' some blarney; etc.

But alas, The Muddy Buzzard won't even be in the Big Sky State this weekend.  Rather, I'll be in sunny Arizona attending the wedding of my first born.  Hard to believe that the precious bundle of joy that came into our lives on a wintry January day in 1987 is now starting his own family.

Nick has been in the Phonenix/Tempe/Mesa area for a bit over 5 years now.  It's been a great place for him to grow into a fine young man.  He's getting ready to graduate from Arizona State in a couple of months with a B.S. in anthropolgy; and, will start in a human genetics doctoral program at University of Chicago this fall.

But, before all that, he's got the big event coming up on Saturday.  Around 4 years ago he met a local girl by the name of Katie Hunt.  We met her at my nephew Chris's wedding in Santa Monica on 7/7/07 - and, we hit it off with her right away.  They had a few ups and downs along the way; but, about a year ago it clearly was getting serious. 

This summer, they came to visit us in Plains.  He took Katie up to a little spot on the mountain behind his grandparent's house where he and his cousins used to play when they were little kids.  Erin and Zoe had secretely set up a blanket, picnic basket and deocrations ------ and, he proposed in a spot that was near and dear to him.  What a great way to start their adventure together.

Here's a pic from the engagement album of the happy couple

We'll be in Mesa for a few days to help out ahead of the wedding; the big event on Saturday afternoon and evening, then back home on Sunday.  And, as much as like a good St. Paddy's Day race...................I can't think of a better way to spend this weekend.  Seeing my son take the next step in life with a wonderul young lady is a blessing indeed.  It's as much as a parent can ask for.

So, have fun for those of you hitting the races this weekend.  But, I find it hard to believe that any of you will be able to have a bigger smile or a fuller heart than mine.


The Muddy Buzzard (aka - Happy Dad)

Buzzard Update

Had a follow up visit at the cardiologist last week.  Had been on a drug regimen for my cardiomyopathy diagnosis since October; and, this visit was 3 months after my heart catheterization procedure in early December. 

Through that angiogram, they determined that there were no signs of arterial disease/blockage; but, they did confirm that my left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) was only in the 35 to 40% range.  The LVEF is a measure of the amount of blood that is pumped out of your heart and into your arteries.  In most cases, the normal amount may be in the 55 to 65% range.  So, clearly I was only pumping out a small fraction of what I should have been.

Since October, I had been on a cocktail of beta blockers, ace-inhibitors, statins and blood thinner.  The goal was to lower my blood pressure and blood viscosity in order to make it easier for my heart to pump out the blood.  By lowering the pumping resistance, the theory is that the heart can get stronger and improve function.

The big concern of a low LVEF (35% or below) is a pretty big increase in the risk of sudden cardiac arrest.  So, if we weren't seeing an improvement in my LVEF, he wanted to have a discussion about implanting a defibrillator.  Although the risk is still pretty low of a cardiac event (even at 35% or below it's maybe 1% risk), there are no warning signs/pre-cursor events.  If it happens, it occurs without warning and unless you have an internal defibrillator or an AED available for immediate action, it's almost always fatal. 

Needless to say, none of that discussion was very comforting.

So, off I went to get another echocardiogram to see if the meds had been at all successful.  After waiting for several days, I got a phone message from the doctor's nurse yesterday with some good news.  My ejection fraction has improved to the 45 to 50% range.  Not yet in the normal range; but, a significant improvement over a few months ago.  And, most importantly - it takes the discussion of a defibrillator off the table.

Have another follow up visit in a month - at which time we'll visit some more about continuation of treatment by meds and lifestyle issues (i.e. running and racing).  But, it certainly looks like there's a bit of a ray of light shining through.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

To Your Marks

A big, big weekend of racing coming up in the Big Sky as road racing kicks off as winter begins to fade. In fact, the pre-Saint Paddy’s Day weekend has turned into one of the busiest weekends of the entire year for Montana distance enthusiasts.

Perhaps the grand-daddy of them all would be the AOH (Ancient Order of the Hibernian’s) St. Patrick’s Day runs in Anaconda. Over the 30+ years that this race has been around, there have been some super competitive fields including many of the who’s who of Montana distance runners. I personally have some great memories of this race from the early and mid-80’s - great competition followed by some great post race socializing at the Locker Room bar (aka – throwin’ back a few brews and telling road race lies).

Another long time staple on the racing scene (and more geared to the eastern part of the state) is the Yellowstone Rim Runner’s Shamrock Run. This race serves as the club’s membership event and always draws a big group of Billings and Billings are runners. There was a period of about 15 years where this race served as my kick off the season. Fond memories indeed.

Then we get into some of the newer events on the schedule. There’s the Run To The Pub in Bozeman for Bobcat fans and the Run For the Luck of It in Missoula for the Griz (which starts and finishes at Sean Kelly’s Irish Pub) ……………………..hmmmmmm – seems to be a bit of a malt beverage theme in the college towns :D

And, let’s not forget the March Meltdown in Polson; the Saint Patrick’s Day Dash in Great Falls (a benefit for the UGF track & XC programs); or, the Lucky Leprechaun Fest in Helena (a benefit for Eagle Mount Helena – a great program that provides outdoor recreation opportunities for folks with various disabilities).

With cabin fever setting in, lots of folks look forward to getting out and putting on their racing shoes during this weekend. Some will use the races just to get the season started. Others are using the events as tune-ups for Boston or other spring marathons. Some will be running their first ever road race and getting indoctrinated into the wonderful sport that the Buzzard enjoys so much.

Regardless, this weekend starts to set the stage for who’s going to be the hot runner’s for the season. Expect to see names like King, Hunt, Grant, Newton, Jodoin, Judge, Braun, Strode, Bazzanella, Gibson, et al at the front of the fields.  And, who knows - maybe some new names will emerge as "leaders of the pack".  No matter what the case, it should be a fun weekend.

The Buzzard can only say one thing – Run Hard, Run Fast, Run Happy

See you on the roads, track and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

End Of February Results & Highlights

Some surprisingly good racing up front for at the Snow Joke ½-Marathon a couple of weeks ago. On a very cold Saturday morning, with less than ideal road/footing conditions, Jimmy Grant of Missoula defended his 2010 title. Breaking the tape in 1:14:56, Jimmy secured an almost 4 minute win over Adam Jensen (1:18:25). Great time given the conditions. After not hearing much from Jimmy during the fall season, he’s clearly back in the game for the 2011 racing circuit. A close 3rd went to Flathead High School distance ace Zac Perrin in 1:18:51.

On the master’s side, Scott Gaiser of Kalispell held off Brian Fruit of Missoula – 1:25:20 to 1:29:22
The women’s field was headed by Kara DeWalt in 1:23:57. But, the best female race of the day was on the master’s side. Julie Gilchrist of Ovando secured a win over the 2010 Master of the Year Debbie Gibson of Helena – 1:36:51 to 1:38:36.

You can find full results at

The other big news from the Montana distance running scene was at the Big Sky Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships. And, two of the stars at that show were MSU’s Patrick Casey and UM’s Katrina Drennen.

Casey won his signature event with a 4:10 mile. In addition, he was a member of the winning Distance Medley relay team. Having an off day in the 800 (word has it that Patrick was fighting some illness in the week leading into the meet), he placed 6th @ 1:55.58. Pretty incredible talent when an off day gets you a 1:55!!!

Drennen probably did Patrick one better during the meet. Securing wins at the 3,000 meters and the DMR, she added a 2nd in the mile. Pretty big day of points for the Griz star.

Both will be in action on Friday, March 11th at the NCAA indoor track and field championships. Casey has the #1 seed in the men’s mile (based on his sub-4:00 effort at Bozeman earlier this year – and the subsequent altitude adjustment); and, his heat will take off at 4:00 p.m. Looking at the field, I think Casey should easily get himself into the final. And, if all falls into place properly – he clearly has a shot at an individual title.

Katrina will be next up at 4:15. Seeded 16th in the women’s field, she’ll have a harder path to make the finals. But, magic can always happen at the big meets – that’s why they base the results on the actual races and not the seed times.

Good Luck to both Patrick and Katrina at Nationals. Go Cats!!! Go Griz!!!!

The Muddy Buzzard