Sunday, January 23, 2011

Running Under Cover

The indoor season within the state kicked off Friday night at the MSU meet in Bozeman.  Nothing of real excitement - probably the best performance of the night was Patrick Casey's 8:24 3,000 - which is a qualifier for the Big Sky Conference meet (Daniel Jackson of MSU also made the BSC qualifier with his 8:35).

To me the real highlight of the meet were the teams that were competing.  Sure, there was MSU and a small squad from UM.  Both schools from which we expect to see track teams every year.  What was different about this meet were some of the other schools that had athletes competing. 

How about MSU-Billngs, Rocky Mountain College, Carroll College and University of Great Falls?  It's fantastic to see these schools expanding their programs to include not just cross-country; but, also indoor and outdoor track.  It allows our in state, high school athletes to have more competitive opportunities without having to leave the state.  That's good for the kids; and, it's good for the sport in general.

The Muddy Buzzard

How Bout Dem Old Guys

Now the Buzzard moves onto the cream of the crop in the old guys divisions - the 2010 Montana Master's Runner of the Year.  This was a much more challenging choice than the open men since we had two athletes with some stellar results and some great head to head competition.  Both members of Helena's Vigilante Runner's, Kyle Strode and Pat Judge are well known around the Montana running community - and they have continued to compete at high levels as they have crested the 40-year old age mark.

In fact, Pat may have had his best year of running in at least the last 5 years with a resurgence in his fitness as he entered the masters ranks.  And, that newly returned snap in his legs gave Kyle a run for his money (both literally and figuratively).  The two squared off in races around the state throughout the year; and, in the end, the head to head competition was a near draw.  But, the tie-breaker in this oh-so-close battle goes to the wide range of distances on the portfolio of Kyle Strode.

From a 4:48.98 mile at the Montan Men's Master's Mile (M4) to a 2:47:00 at the Missoula Marathon - Kyle had an incredible string of performances over a wide range of distances.  Aren't we all a bit envious over a season like this:

Snow Joke 1/2 Marathon - 4th overall, 1st Master - 77:37
M4 - 4th place - 4:48.98
Across the Bay 12K (San Fransisco) - 4th Master - 41:57
Ice Breaker 5 Mile - 10th overall, 1st Master - 28:22
Don't Fence Me In 30K - 3rd overall, 1st Master (and beaten by only two of the top 5 open men) - 2:29:10
Missoula Marathon - 4th overall, 1st Master - 2:47:00
Montana Cup - 13th ovarll, 1st Master - 22:03
August Road Race (Helena) - 3.8 miles - 3rd overall, 1st Master - 20:43
Carrol College Open Cross Country Meet - 5 miles - 2nd Master - 28:22
Veteran's Day Run - Butte - 5 miles - 3rd Overall, 2nd Master - 29:35

Kyle's "run to the top" has been building steam for a couple of years.  He had a very solid season in 2009; but, in 2010 he really was hitting on all cylinders.  With so many top 5 overall finishes and just a couple of defeats in the Masters catefory, it's pretty hard to not give the to nod to Kyle.  And, on top of all that, he did the running world a big favor by "outing" an apparent cheat by the name of Kip Litton.  Turns out this guy has been running all over the country (including the Missoula Marathon) under the presumed goal of setting a world record for the number of marathons under 3 hours.  But, in the end, turns out that he was a big fraud.  If you're interesed in a bizzare story of the lengths that some people will go to in order to get some attention, check out this post by Kyle from another blog:

It was a hard choice to leave Mr. Judge off the top spot.  He also had a fantastic year - with top performances that included:

M4 - 8th - 4:59.51
Big Butte Run - 2nd overall, 2nd Master - 44:11
Don't Fence Me In 5K - 1st overall - 17:48
VIG Scrimmage Mile - 4th ovearll, 2nd Master - 4:51.8
Governor's Cup 10K - 5th overall, 2nd Master 35:40
Carrol College Open XC - 13th overall, 1st Master - 27:31
Big Sky State Games 5K (track) - 2nd Master - 16:35
Montana Cup XC - 14th overall, 2nd Master - 22:09

And, his coup de grace for the year - The Veteran's Day Run in Butte - 2nd overall and 1st Master - 29:18.  What made this race all the more special was the sportsmanship that Pat demonstrated towards Big Bird Jodoin.  Check out the story here:    I would also be remiss if I didn't also make mention of Pat's great contributions to the Helena running scene with his involvement in the Vigilante Runner's and his leadership of Helena's Montana Cup team.

After Pat, the Buzzard is going to go with what may be a bit of a suprise - Mike Telling of Dillon.  He had a season that was shortened due to some pretty significant injury issues in late summer.  But, his early season efforts were pretty impressive.  1st overall at the Frigid Digger Run, 1st overall at the Big Butte Run, 6th overall and 3rd Master at the Don't Fence Me In 30K Trail Run, 5th overall and 2nd Master at Wulfman 14K Trail Run and 6th overall and 2nd Master at the Missoula Marathon.

Mike is followed by the ageless speed demon himself - Peter Dan Sullivan of Helena.  Dan continues to hold onto an amazing amount of speed and turnover.  How about this set of miles - M4 in 4:38.59, VIG Scrimmage - 4:40.6 and Montana Mile in 4:34.3.  Throw in the Governor's Cup 5K in 16:52, 4th ovearall/3rd Master in 30:10, and 5th in August Road Race (Helena).  Dan is arguably held back in the rankings to some degree by his limited racing outside of the Helena area and the fact that his cumulative race distance for the year is less than the marathons run by Strode and Telling.  He gets high marks in the Buzzards's book for that sly Irish grin that always seems to be plastered on his face.

Another guy whose "stock" has soared in the last couple of years is Jeff Braun of Butte.  He had top 3 Masters finishes at the Riverbank 10K in Misosula, the Roots Festival 4 Mile in Missoula, Montana Cup and Wulfman.  Plus, he had Master's wins at the Don't Fence Me In 12K Trail Race, Lewis and Clark Half Marathon and MT Helena.  For such a quiet, laid back guy before the race, he's a fierce competitor once the gun goes off.

One guy who was on his way to a top 5 ranking before fracturing his left patella (aka busted kneecap) was the Waterloo Wiz - Ray Hunt.  He had the performance of the year in the Master's Category with his 4th place overall finish at the Wulfman CDT 14K Trail Race.  Running under the old course record (the open record that is) and to an off the charts age graded performance, Ray literally ran himself sick.  It was a stunning performance that was inspiring to all of us over 40 lads.

It was a great year for Master's competition.  Consider some of the names that didn't make the list this year - Scott Gaiser, Jeff Thomas, Kirk Keller, John Herring, Steve Bruner and Rob Walker.  Just goes to reconfirm the notice that moving to a new age group doesn't necessarily make things any easier.

In the next few days look for the 1st ever ranking on the women's side.  Just like th men, there was some intense competition on the distaff side and some great performances.  Plus one very difficult challenge for the Buzzard on exaclty where to categorize one of the state's top females.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Muddy Buzzard's Open Male Runner Of The Year

This was a bit easier of a choice than in 2009 due to Alan King's dominance at a wide variety of events, conditions and distances.  Within the state's border's Alan I believe that Alan suffered just 2 defeats all season.  When the racing was tough and the competition tougher, Alan pretty much rose to the occasion in all instances.

Here are some of his highlights for the year:

US 1/2 Marathon Championships, Houston, January 17th - 69:37
USATF XC Championships, Spokane, Februyary, 12K @ 39:35
Twice under 16:00 at 5K - Shamrock Run & Heart & Sole in Billings - (March & June respectively) - 15:54 and 15:59
Solo 67:28 1/2 Marathon on same course used by the Montana Marathon events
32:02 on the Track in Bozeman at the Big Sky Conference Last Chance Qualifier
New Course Record in Big Sky State Games 10K @ 33:49
Qualtiy of Life Run 5-Mile in August @ 24:09
Montana Marathon 1/2 Marathon in September (1:14:47 (after running with me over the first 4 miles at about 24:00)
Ice Breaker 5 Mile - 2nd overall @ 25:39
Montana Cup XC overall champion in 20:20
MSU Billings XC Invitational - 8K @ 24:59

Alan @ 2009 Ice Breaker

Just a very solid year for Mr. King.  When he showed up at a race in 2010 there was no doubt that he was going to be considered one of the favorites.  And, if he was going to be beaten, it was going to take some fast, hard and painful running to get the line ahead of him.

Alan's only off moment all year came in December at the California International Marathon.  After coming through the half at 69:31 (right on pace for an Oly Trials qualifier), he developed a bad stitch and fell off the pace.  At that point he dnf''d rather than abuse the body any further.  But, don't count out Alan and his Trials Qualifying quest just yet.  His recovery after CIM went really well and he's geared up to take another shot at the ING Miami Marathon on 1/30 (less than 2 weeks from now).  He just ran a sub-9:00 3K on the indoor track (in the midst of his marathon training) and looks primed and ready to go at South Beach.

As easy a choice as Alan may have been for the Runner Of The Year - the guys that followed him were a bit more of a challenge.  What to do with guys like Jimmy Grant, Mike Wolfe, Mike Foote and Keifer Hahn?

Behind that would perhaps have to be The Big Bird himself - Thomas Jodoin of Helena.  Okay, he had a bit of an off day at MT Cup (9th in 21:46  - but still only 20 seconds out of the top 5); but, the rest of his year was pretty solid.  New course record of 14:07 at Anaconda AOH 5K, wins Veteran's Day for 4th year in a row, double win at Governor's Cup 5K & 10K, 2nd at Wulfman, 1st in Don't Fence Me In 12K Trail in Helena and a 15:49 5K in San Diego in late December.

In the end though, he was 0-2 against Alan and that bumps him off the top spot.  An ideal year for 2011 would be to see Alan and Thomas injury free, running fast and going head to head on 4 or 5 occassions.  That would be some hot, hot, hot competition.

Jimmy Grant - the 2009 Runner of the Year - gets the next nod.  He didn't race a whole lot in 2010; but, they were all solid performances.  72:51 to win Snow Joke:, 31:44 at Riverbank Run 10K; 39:20 for 34th overall at Bloomsday and 71:09 for 1st in Missoula Marathon 1/2.  Only off day was a 6th against a stacked field (including several Washington runners) at River Roots - where he still ran 20:21 for 4-miles.

Next up is Mike Wolfe of Helena.  2nd @ Snow Joke, 4th in 10K at Riverbank Run (0-2 against Grant), 6th in Riverbank 5K (and 4th in the Trifecta), 1st in Don't Fence Me in Trail Run 30K in Helena, 3rd @ MT Cup and new course record at Big Horn 100 mile.  His biggest performance of the year though was the Europe based North Face Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc - were he place 2nd against an international field over the wet, rugged 100K event.

Mike Foote of Missoula (and an employee at The Runner's Edge) is next on the list.  He had wins at the Bear 100 in Utah, the Bridger Ridge Run, the Colter Run and the Pengellay Double Dip.  He was 3rd at the Hardrock 100, 2nd at the Don't Fence Me In 30K and 4th at MT Cup (and 0-2 against Wolfe).  I also witnessed a morning where Mike had done about 3 hours of warm-up around Mount Sentinel, then did a 4:53 in the Missoula Mile (4th overall) then finished up with another hour on the trails up the Rattlesnake.  Pretty impressive range of distance and terrain.

Keifer Hahn's list of events was just a bit too short to move into the top 5.  But, he had perhaps the performance of the year (for runs within the state's borders).  His 2:30:37 solo effort at the Missoula Marathon was a thing of beauty.  Breaking his own course record by 2 1/2 minutes - he was oh so close to the sub-2:30 barrier.  And done all by himself.  Winning by over 10:00 - he had no help with the pacing or keeping the pace on track.  It's probably the best marathon performance in Montana in at least the last decade, if not longer.  Keifer is a focused, talented athlete - he doesn't toe the line often; but, when he does show up - you know he's going to be cranking the pace and making the race fast.

One last mention - I've obviously excluded collegiate athletes.  My focus here are post collegiate athletes who have remained committed to the sport.  That being said - there is one Montana collegiate athlete who reached the rarified air of the super elite.  Yes, I'm speaking about Patrick Casey - Laurel Locomotive Alum and current MSU Bobcat.  3 races pretty much tell the tale of his talent level.  Fist up is his 4:07.9 at the Big Sky State Games Montana Mile.  Pretty impressive for mid-July for a collegiate runner.  Of course, this is nothing compared to the 4:04.44 he ran in Bozeman on the indoor track in the winter.  Both of which paled in comparison to his big day - how about this for some big time flames spewing out your butt type of day - 3rd place at the NCAA Indoor National Championships in 4:01.87.  Impressive indeed. 

But, as I said - the Buzzard is focused on those of us who have left the nest of high school and college, have stayed involved in the sport and continue to compete against the best that the Big Sky State has to offer.

So that's the view from the Buzzard's roost.  You may or may not agree with my picks; but, either way - would love to hear you weigh in on your thoughts on who you think is the best of the best. 

Next up - Masters Men (aka Old Men Running).

See you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Early Season Action

So, the new year is upon us and we're starting to see some action inside and outside of the state's borders.

Even though it was technically held in 2010, the Buzzard is consider Run Wild Missoula's New Year's Eve Indoor Track 2-mile Race as a 2011 event.  And, that's were Pat Judge of Helena flexed some early season master's muscle.  Running right on the heels of 21-year old Thomas Everett of Missoula (and a collegiate athlete at South Dakota Tech) Pat ran a solid 10:23 to get the year started right.

New Year's Day saw the year start off at the annual 5K run in Thompson Falls.  Cold temps and lots of snow on the roads kept time's slow and the field a bit smaller than in some past years.  But, fun was still had by all - and, a surprising number of folks also took part in the Polar Bear Plunge.

Week two of the year was a quiet on the running front.  But, there was a big bang of activity this weekend - all of it out of state; but, involving Montana athletes.

Let's start with the Yellow Jacket Open at Black Hills State in Spearfish, SD yesterday (1/15/11).  Alan King, in the midst of a marathon training cycle, equals his PR at 3,000 meters with a 2nd place 8:58.58.  In two weeks Alan takes a stab at a fast marathon at the ING Miami Marathon.  In addition to Alan - Rocky Mountain College (Alan coaches at RMC) and MSU-Billings (coached by Dave Coppock) were there and running hard.  See full results of the meet at:

Also yesterday - the University of Washington Indoor Preview meet in Seattle.  The Ricardi kids were at it - both now in their post-collegiate careers - at 3,000 metes.  John ran an 8:46.66 in the men's race.  Lois (now married and running under the name Lois Keller) ran a stellar 9:50.41 for a 4th place overall finish.

Today's PF Chang's Marathon and Half-Marathon had a full complement of Montana athletes (see full results at  Leading the way in the full marathon was Brendan Halpin of Missoula.  He placed 18th overall with a 2:38:39 performance.  Also under 2:45 was John Fitzgerald of Missoula at 2:42:45. 

In the half marathon, Ben Rush of Helena ran 1:16:12 to lead the Big Sky finishers.  Joe Anderson of Billings (not a name that's familiar to The Muddy Buzzard) ran sub-78 with his 1:17:39.  60-year old Tim Brooker of Plains (and The Runner's Edge) ran a solid 1:29:47 to come in as the 3rd Montanan.

Lewis Elliot of Phoenix (but a native of Billings) ran a 1:15:03 after going out with the lead pack in the first 5K.  Lewis is a national level triathlete who just returned to Arizona after a multi-week Christmas break with his family in Montana.

A lot of the action in the next few weeks will be indoor track based (and on the collegiate level).  But, there are a few road races in the state; and, Big Sky athletes will be traveling to a few out of state events.  The Buzzard will do his best to keep you all up to date on what's going on with the distance running scene in and around the Big Sky State.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard

OHHHHH - The Pain In My A$$

A little known; but, debilitating condition none the less.  You never hear of this affliction as part of polite conversations; and, it's never something that you mother wants to hear discussed at the dinner table.  But, it's time that we move this out of the dark closets and sweaty locker rooms and increase the awareness of this dreaded condition.  That's right, it's time to talk about ass callouses.

Most of you have probably never heard of Ass Callous Extremus (aka ACE) before.  But, it's real and it's more rampant than one might expect.  So - exactly how does one come down with this affliction?  Well, it generally comes about during the months of December, January and February and is directly correlated to high school wrestling season.

Here in western Montana, it begins with a long trip to Eureka for a double dual meet.  6 hours of driving and two hours on hard bleachers.  That's when you see the butt skin begin to thicken and harden.  Epsom salts, hot water soaks and liberal application of lotion only delay the inevitable.  You think you have it managed during quick trips to Thompson Falls and Superior.  But then, the tipping point comes and a towel snaps you right across both cheeks.......................yes, the dreaded trip to Choteau's two day tourney.

Early on you trick yourself into believing that the 4 1/2 hour drive won't have any effect.  And, heck, you brought your stadium seat and that should protect you for the 8 hours in the gym on Friday.  And; who knows, maybe you are successful in keeping it at bay.  You even get in some early morning runs in the bitter cold to help keep the body loose and limber.  But then comes Saturday and the day of reckoning.  First you drive an hour from Great Falls (since the Choteau area doesn't have enough rooms for all the teams, fans and officials).  Then, 10 hours of wrestle-backs, semi finals, consolation finals and championship matches.  And the coup de grace - the 4 1/2 hour drive home in the dark. 

And, that's when it's complete - your soft as a baby's behind has been transformed into a hard, cracked slab of rawhide.  You're now the proud owner of your very own personal Ass Callous.  On the bright side, perhaps that will help you to make it through the last couple of invitational tournaments, divisional and state.

Then again, with track season just around the corner, your ACE affliction isn't bound to go away any time soon.  Experience would suggest that it generally doesn't subside until you've had the chance to soak in the lake a couple of days around the 4th of July.

Yeah, being a wrestling fan is some tough duty.  But, the friends, family, athletes, coaches and officials who are part of these events are die-hard and rabid.  We never expected that our daughter would turn us into a wrestling family; but, here we are.  And, in the last 4 years I've developed a new respect for those that participate in and are connected to wrestling.  It's been a great ride.  And, I'm wearing my ass callous proudly this morning after watching some impressive Class B & C athletes on the mat this weekend.

From a gel cushioned seat, I'll see you on the roads, tracks and trails

The Muddy Buzzard

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Weird Wild Weather

Experienced some weird weather as we drove across the state today.  Left Plains (NW Montana) at about 2:30 this afternoon.  Drove through temps of low to mid 30's all the way to Missoula, then up to Lincoln and over Rogers pass.  All the while it was light rain and mist. 

Then, at the bottom of Rogers Pass, things dried up and warmed up.  The snow was gone and the road suddently was bare and dry.  All aided by the gusty chinook winds that had the temps up to the mid 40's. 

Then, we turned onto Hwy 287 and headed north towards Choteau.  About 10 mintues up the road we suddenly crossed the weather front.  The wind quit blowing and the within minutes the temperature dropped to 5 degrees. Utterly bizarre.

Living most all of my life in Montana - that's without a doubt the most abrupt weather change I have ever experienced.  But, at the same time, it's one of the great things about living in Big Sky Country.

Now, here I sit in Choteau (we're here to watch the big wrestling tournament this weekend) with a temp of about zero.  Looks like a frosty run tomorrow morning.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Love Being In The Groove

Ending 2010 and entering 2011 saw me fighting some alingment issues with my right knee cap.  The resultant pain was throwing off my form and rythm and made every run a bit of an effort.  But, things came back together this week; and, on this past Wednesday I had a run that made me forget all about the last couple of weeks.

If you've been a distance runner for any amoutn of time, you know what a great feeling it is to get in the zone during a run.  Finding that "groove" can be almost magical.  As things begin to flow, all that exists is the sound of your breathing and your foot falls.  Time seems to get compressed.  The pace seems to be almost effortless.  Your legs seem to roll over with almost no effort and your shoes feel like feathers.

This doesnt' happen very often; but, when it does - it's worth remembering.

Rarer still are those occassions when you are out on a group run with 2 or 3 or 4 of your pals.  You approach the end of a long run and that's when it happens - the conversation ends, the pace starts to ratchet down a bit and all you hear are the foot plants of the group.  And the pace starts to drop a bit more.  And pretty soon, you're not really racing; but, it's no longer just a long run.  It's morphed into a symbiotic effort of speed and grace - almost like a dance of power and speed.  Magical indeed.

We've all had days like this; and, hopefully we all have more in our legs.  Just remember, the next time it happens - remember to enjoy and embrace the run.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails.

The Muddy Buzzard

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Close One Chapter, Open The Next

2010 - in some ways, a year that I would like to just wipe away from the books.  And, a lot of that is  based on just one factor in my daily life (albeit a big one).  Turns out that viral cardiomyopathy tends to put a pretty big damper on your running performances.  And, when partaking in the sport is a bit of a passion, that tends to cast a pall on things.  And, the cloud continues to hang low while I wait till March to see if the drug therapy is working; or, if my heart weakness/low ejection fraction is going to be a long term and/or permanent issue.

But hey, even with that, the big picture still remains all fine and dandy.  When I really kick back and look at things, life is pretty much fantabulishous.

A great wife in Erin - we celebrated our 25th Wedding Anniversary this summer !!!!!!!  Two great kids in Nick and Zoe.  A great career in a job that is challenging and my employer treats me at a valuable part of the organization.  Coaching the Plains High School XC program for the 2nd year was a kick and it was truly enjoyable to get to hang out with this group of kids in the fall.  My parents are now 81 and they're still around to enjoy their grand kids.  My brother just had his first baby at the age of 46; and, it's fantastic to have a new member in the clan.  Thanksgiving with my family in Paradise Valley.  Christmas with Erin, Nick, Zoe and Peg (mother in law) at home in the Clark Fork Valley.  4th of July weekend at the Vermilion Bay property.  XC camp in August during the Huckleberry Festival.  Taking mom and dad to my brother's new house in the Seattle area over Memorial Day.  Doing the Dave Matthews Day Concert at the Gorge Amphitheater in Washington with Nick over Labor Day weekend.  Following Zoe all year to Track, Cross Country and Wrestling events.

When I look back, it was a great year filled with rich and enjoyable memories.  But, 2010 is now in the books.  Today begins a new future.  An empty basket just waiting to be filled.  And, looking ahead, it has all the makings of being filled with with amazing life adventures.

Nick getting married in March in Arizona to our soon to be daughter in law Katie.
Nick scheduled to graduate from Arizona State (cum laud no less) in early May.
Zoe scheduled to graduate from Plains High School (possible valedictorian???) in late May.
My first season as the Head Track Coach at Plains High School.
Camp Vigilante in July.
Nick heading off to pursue his PhD in genetics this fall (so far he has interviews schedule at Cornell, Duke and Chicago)
Zoe heading off to college to study material science (so far she has been accepted at Montana State and Illinois); and, she hopes, Navy ROTC.
Tony & Erin becoming empty nesters and having to learn how to live without kids in the house.

And, running - what adventures will happen to this old buzzard during the coming season????????  I suspect that lots of that will ultimately be dictated by what goes on with the old ticker and how successful I am in seeing improvements to my cardiac function.  Regardless, I'm looking forward to undertaking a weird personal science experiment and maximizing my potential for the year.  We'll just have to take what gets thrown at us with the cardiomyopathy and the age (48) and make the best of it.

And, no better time to get started on that path than this morning.  We spent New Year's Eve at Silver Mountain Resort in Kellogg, Idaho.  (We being me, Erin, Nick, Katie and Zoe.)  The other 4 went out this morning to hit the ski slopes.  But, thanks to some nagging knee pain in my patella, I begged out.  The vastus medialis (the head of the quadriceps on the inside of the leg and just above the knee) on my "bad" leg (the leg in which I fractured my kneecap in 2008) seems to have gotten pretty weak over the last couple of months.  The resulting atrophy has meant that my kneecap isn't tracking properly right now and is causing some pain when running.  (But, especially in any activity causing eccentric contraction - i..e skiing, jumping, etc.)  Since being told to cut back on my mileage for a while by the cardiologist, I had also backed off the core and strength work.  Quad got weak. Knee got sore.

My form and rhythm have been compromised a bit in my running. But, I can get in some miles if I really watch my foot plant and keep my pace in check.  But, didn't want to risk really getting it sore by putting on the skis.  So, just hung out at the resort all day.  Sort of a relaxing day of kicking back, doing a little reading and playing on the computer.

But; first, had to worship the mileage gods on the cold (4 degrees) crisp morning.  Mostly on the Cour de Alene Trail (that runs 71 miles from Mullan to the west) that runs right past the resort.  With the sun out, it felt warmer than 4; and, I got through 3 very easy miles.  My form is pretty ragged; but, when I got down to about 7:30 pace, things smoothed out and the knee felt way better.  Got back to the motel and did about 15 minutes of quad work and strenghtening for the quad/knee stability.  In just a week of getting back to the strengthening work, I'm already seeing improvements.

It's amazing how much fitness I've lost since I backed off the miles in early November.  And, while wallowing in self pity a bit, my diet suffered some as well and I'm about 8 to 10 pounds heavier than I would like.  Add a gimpy knee and it's makes for a situation that will take some time to get turned around.  But, as I said earlier.  I'm actually looking forward to it a bit.  A new challenge, some new goals, a new chapter, a new trail.   2011 - here comes the Muddy Buzzard!!!!

See you on the roads, tracks and trails.