Sunday, December 28, 2014

Annual Birthday Run

It happened again: I lived another year without dying. To celebrate, for the fourth year-in-a-row, last month I ran one kilometer for every year I've survived on this harsh planet. For those keeping score, that's thirty two kilometers.

I have a few friends who do a mile for every year, but I prefer to take a more international approach to my birthday running. Sure, it may be seen as "unpatriotic," but I prefer to use a system of measurement employed by the vast majority of the planet, mathematically easier to use, and the global standard for track and field. It also doesn't hurt that kilometers are shorter than miles and running thirty two miles in one day seems a little much.

But I digress. My birthday run went well. I started out by running around six miles before pacing the Chocoholic Frolic 10k. After the race, I had a little post-race chocolate refreshment with Laura, then finished up my 32k by heading back toward Eagan.

Unfortunately I misjudged the distance from the race finish line to my house, so at 32k I was still almost two miles from home. I've been taking it easy since the Chicago Marathon, so after running almost 20 miles, I didn't really feel like running another couple miles. Plus, Laura and I had a lunch date at Godfather's buffet that I really didn't want to miss.

So, I asked a nice biker (the kind that wears spandex, not leather) if I could borrow his cell phone, and I called Laura and told her to come and pick me up. The phone rang about seven times. I really did not feel like walking, or what was quite possibly going to become run walking, so I was super relieved when she finally answered.

I'm glad I've been able to keep the birthday run tradition alive. Next year will be the first year with the run being over twenty miles long, so I'm going to have to keep staying in shape.

Happy Running!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and a wonderful day to all my readers. I hope everyone got some time today to spend with family, relaxing, or going for a nice Christmas run.

Here's a lovely photo from a couple years back when Laura and I went for a Christmas run:

Christmas run with drinks (I think we drank them after the run)
Happy Running!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Pace Report Spectacular

I'm going to get back at this blogging thing--I really am. I'm now three pace reports behind, so I'll just write about all of them in one post. How exciting are they really, honestly? I could probably just copy and paste from one race to the other and change the names and times a little bit rather than writing something extremely similar anyway.

Of course, if all writers thought that way, there'd be no more romantic comedies. Honestly, how many of those films could you just change the main characters' names, a couple locations, and have another romantic comedy.

But I digress. On to the pace reporting:

Rochester Healthy Human Half Marathon

 Wow, I'm way behind on this one. It was so long ago I barely remember it. This was the first time I did this race, and it was a fun change from the Med City Half Marathon. Though Rochester's not overly scenic, having lived there for about a year, it is familiar.

I thought the race was pretty well organized--the expo was decent, the mile markers were pretty accurate, and the aid stations were plentiful and well-stocked. I also got the bonus of seeing an old friend and a co-worker from last school year.

If you live in Rochester and want to run a half marathon later in the summer, the Rochester Healthy Human Race would be a good one.

Mankato Half Marathon

I can't really say anything different about this race than I did last year, other than this year there was beer at the finish, which was a nice bonus. This is well organized race, they have a nice expo, and they offer distances from the 5k to the marathon over the course of the weekend.

If you're interested, you can see me in the video from the 2013 race. I finish the 1:30 pace group and then get interviewed about the 3:40 mark in this video.

The other big bonus about the race this year was that the hotel we were staying at opened its breakfast early, so I got to eat for free before the race. Then, a big double bonus was that the breakfast was still open when I got back to the hotel. I pigged out on eggs, potatoes, and a nice Belgian waffle.

Chocholic Frolic 10k

Again, there's not much new to say about this race that I didn't say last year. The course was a little different this year, and with a very tough hill at mile three, this is definitely not a PR course. I take that back--it could be a PR this year because the course was about a quarter of a mile short.

There are, however, a couple of different "aid" stations with chocolate, so I'm guessing there's not a ton of people taking this race super-seriously.

Well, there it is--three pace reports in one post. I hope it was as exciting for you to read as it was for me to write. Stay tuned for the report on my 32k birthday run.

Happy Running!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


I apologize for the interruption in blogging. I have several upcoming posts that were written in the past months. I've been waiting to add pictures to them, so expect them soon!

My running has been going quite well. I've been averaging about 40 miles per week and am getting ready to ramp up my training in order to have a good mileage base coming into the spring running season. I've done a good amount of mileage on the treadmill and indoor track--it's already that time of year.

I've been toying with the idea of doing the Rochesterfest Triathlon for the third time. This means I need to start adding some swimming and stationary cycling to my workout routine, probably after the new year. On the other hand, I really don't like swimming, so maybe I'll try a duathlon next year instead. I'm hoping I'll be able to be efficient with my time so that I won't be taking away any time from my running.

Thanks, readers, for your patience as I've failed to write a blog entry for over a month.

Happy Running!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Chicago Marathon: Race Report

Let's start with the end: I finished the marathon in 3:03:17. My streak of sub-3 hour marathons has ended at three.While this race was tough, there was nothing that really surprised me about it, though the end of a marathon is always harder than I remember the last one being.

Chicago is a fun city and Laura and I really enjoyed the Chicago Marathon. Our hotel was out by Chicago Midway Airport, and public transportation to the expo and the start was a breeze. We rode the train and bus to the expo on Saturday afternoon, and after spending some time at the expo getting free stuff and eating free samples, we went with our friends Brit and Jared to grab some pre-race pasta.

The next morning we got up early to catch the train to the start and get ready for the race. The start line was pretty crowded already at 6:45 AM, but it was still easy to get to everything. We took a couple of start line photos, then headed to our respective corrals for the start.

After waiting about ten minutes for a port-a-potty, I made it to the start line with about fifteen minutes to spare. With five minutes to go, I threw off my Goodwill sweats, and shivered slightly until the start.

As the race got going I knew I was dressed perfectly besides not wearing my sunglasses. The forecast said it would be "mostly cloudy," but at the start of the race and for almost the entire time, there wasn't a cloud in the sky.

During the fist few miles I chatted off and on with another Team World Vision runner, Andy, about our past race and race goals. I settled into a pretty good pace of about 6:45/mile, and felt really good.

Honestly, for most of the first 20 miles I felt really confident that I was going to get my "A" goal of under 2:58. My legs felt good and the pace felt nice and smooth. Then, around mile 21, I started feeling it. I did a little quick math and knew that if I could run right around 7:00/mile I would break three hours, my "B" goal.

Unfortunately from mile 21 on my pace got slower and slower. I was getting passed by a lot of runners, and every time I tried to speed up I couldn't hang on to a faster pace for more than a minute. My legs were very heavy and I was really hurting.

I tried to pick it up at the end, but even that didn't happen. Oh well. It was a fun race and it was cool to run through the big city with so many other runners. The crowd was awesome, the course was flat, and the weather was near perfect.

Laura also finished the marathon, and I was super pumped for her. She's been dealing with a foot problem for months, and we were both glad it held up and that she was able to finish the marathon.

So far I've helped raise over $1100 to bring clean water to communities in Africa. The Team World Vision post-race party was pretty awesome with pizza and soda and dozens of other World Vision runners. I can still accept donations through mid-November: fundraising page.

Chicago was a great race and I definitely put it up there on my list of marathons. I don't know if I'd do it again, but I wouldn't rule it out.

After running my second slowest marathon (not counting pacing), I will say I'm really motivated to improve my training. I've already got my sights set on a PR next fall. Fortunately I'm feeling completely healthy and I'm headed into winter training motivated and in decent shape.

Happy Running!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Marathon Week

Sorry for the hiatus from posting--life gets busy sometimes. I still have a forthcoming pace report on the Rochester Healthy Human Half Marathon, but this week is race week.

Training for the Chicago Marathon was pretty mediocre. It took me a while to feel like I could start pushing it--I was still dealing with some knee pain and a mild case of Achilles tendonitis, and by the time I started feeling truly healthy, I was over halfway done with training and had a hard time getting motivated to amp up my training.

With a week to go before the Chicago Marathon, here's a little pros and cons list of my marathon training:

While my overall mileage was low, my average per week was pretty consistently 40 miles with a high of 51 and a low of 28 (week 1).
I had some solid workouts including a great tempo run and a 6 X 1000m workout where I consistently hit my splits.
I'm almost 100% healthy. The Achilles and left knee are slightly sore occasionally, but overall they rarely hurt.

This is the second lowest average weekly mileage I've had for a marathon.
My training plan was not nearly as intense as the one I followed for my PR marathon in 2012.
The one race (Minnesota Half Marathon) I ran was over six minutes slower than my  1/2 Marathon PR.

So there it is. Here's my traditional A, B, and C goals. I have yet to reach an "A" goal for the marathon, but who knows? Maybe Chicago will be it.

A - Break 2:58
B - Break 3 hours
C - Break 3:05.

Thanks to all my readers for your encouraging words thus far. I am still looking to raise a little over $200 more for my Team World Vision goal to provide clean water for communities in Africa. Check out my fundraising page to find out more!

Happy Running!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Gopher to Badger 1/2 Marathon: Pace Report

Gopher to Badger is one of my favorite half marathons. I especially enjoy the novelty of running from Minnesota into Wisconsin. I know there's people who try to run a marathon in every state, so if anyone's trying to run a half marathon in every state, this would be a good one.

My PR half marathon was set on this course back in 2012, but this year I'm back to pacing after racing the Minnesota Half Marathon the week before. Laura came with me this week again. She really enjoys using half marathons as part of her long runs, and part of why I pace these things is for the same reason. It's nice to get a decent length run in without having to worry about finding water or sports drinks.

I led the 1:35 group this time, and I had quite a few people chat with me before the race. It's always fun listening to people talk about their goals and answering whatever questions I can about the course or about how I plan to pace.

For most of the race I had about 15 people in my group. Some people ran ahead after a few miles, and unfortunately a lot of people dropped off the pace after about 8 miles. I still had a decent size group with a couple of miles to go, and after we crossed over the I-94 bridge from Minnesota to Wisconsin I let them know it was mostly downhill from there and they should pick up the pace.

From there I caught about three more runners. Two of them were able to speed up and finish with me, but one runner couldn't quite stay with me. I felt bad because he looked pretty frustrated that he got passed by the 1:35 group.

When I finished my watch had me at 1:34:59, and the official results had me at 1:35:01. I was pretty happy with my effort--I wonder if there's a way I could make a living off pacing.

Happy Running!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Minnesota Half Marathon: Race Report

Before the race
I knew running the Minnesota Half Marathon wasn't going to be easy. It was the first half marathon I've really raced in over a year, excluding Modesto when I didn't really push the pace until the end. Although I'd paced the Minnesota Half Marathon a few times, this would be the first time I raced it.

The Minnesota Half Marathon takes place in downtown St. Paul on a pretty unusual course. The route starts in one direction on Shepherd Road, turns around the other direction, and the goes past the start for a second out-and-back.

The race has a lot of rolling hills, but none of them were too steep. I spent the first part of the race trying to get into a rhythm, and ran most of the first eight miles with the first place women. I really had no idea what I was capable of, but it seemed like running in the 6:20s felt about right.

At mile 8 the lady I'd been running with pulled ahead, and I was never able to catch back up to her. I tried several times to pick up the pace, but I couldn't find the speed in my legs. It was hot, my legs were feeling pretty heavy, and I just managed to keep running in the 6:20s.

I finished the race in 1:23:33--a long way from a PR, but not a horrible time. I'm not feeling like I'm in the best shape, but at least I was able to put in a decent showing, good enough for 8th place.

My Chicago training is chugging along. I haven't put in the kind of mileage I've run for past marathons, but I'm getting enough in that I'm hoping I still be able to run under three hours.

Happy Running!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Laugh-and-a-half 10k: Race Report

This race report is long overdue, but better late then never.

A little over a week ago, Laura and I traveled to Norfolk, Nebraska to see my family. We also signed up to run the Laugh-and-a-half with my mom and sister. My mom and sister ran the 5k, Laura ran the 1/2 marathon, and I ran the 10k.

It was cool to run a race in the town where I went to high school. The Laugh-and-a-half is a newer race, and so named because Norfolk is the hometown of Johnny Carson. Though the route is nothing special, mostly skirting the outskirts of Norfolk, there were several jokes posted along the course. Here's a sampling:

Did you hear about the race with the lettuce and tomato? The lettuce was a head and the tomato was trying to catch up.

What do you get if you run behind a car? Exhausted.

My mom said there were more jokes last year, but I still appreciated the jokes on the course.

My legs didn't have too much pop in them for this race, and I also had a bit of a cold. Early in the race four runners had a quick start, and I ran behind. About a mile in I caught up and passed one runner, but as the race progressed the first two runners were soon out-of-sight.

The third place runner was in view the entire race, and though at one point I felt like I was closing in on him, I never did catch up to him. It turned out that all the runners ahead of me were in the half marathon, so as a result of a noncompetitive field in the 10k, I took first place. It's all in who shows up I suppose.

My time in the race wasn't too hot, and I'm hoping that I'll make some major strides getting into good shape this summer. If I can keep the nagging injuries at bay, I feel like I'll have a good shot.

My mom had a great time and ran her fastest 5k to date. She won her age group and was excited that she finished before me (albeit running half as far). Laura had fun running the 1/2 marathon, and was happy with her finish.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Chicago Marathon Training: Week 7

Thursday marked my first day of training with no work obligations interfering with my schedule. It was another good week with reasonably solid training and few aches and pains. My last day of school was on Wednesday, so I celebrated on Thursday by running six miles through Lebanon Hills Regional Park.

I'm really digging the time off of work, and will be using a good chunk of it trying to get ahead on strength training. I'm hopeful that if I can get all my stabilizing muscles nice and strong, I will finally be able to ramp up my mileage closer to where I want it.

My week ended with a trip down to my parents' place in Norfolk, Nebraska. My mom, sister, Laura, and I all ran in the Laugh-and-a-Half races on Saturday morning. My mom and Sarah did the 5k, Laura did the 1/2 marathon, and I ran the 10k. It was pretty fun running with my family, especially in the town where I went to high school.

I'll get into more detail on the 10k in my race report, but I will say that it let me know I've got a ways to go in my training. I had thought about racing the 1/2 marathon, but I know that my lack of mileage would keep me from running anywhere near a time I would be happy with. I thought I might be able to do better in a 10k, but that was not the case. I couldn't come anywhere near my 10k PR pace, and the pace I ran at (slower than my 1/2 marathon PR pace), was still difficult.

Though it was a tough race, I did manage to finish at a somewhat strong pace and without collapsing. I was also able to get a few miles in afterward to turn Saturday into my sort of long run day.

Sunday my legs were feeling pretty sore, but I enjoyed a nice jog around Skyview Lake. It was clear, sunny, and breezy and cool--a great way to end my seventh week of Chicago Marathon training.

Happy Running!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Chicago Marathon Training: Week 6

This was the fastest week of training for Chicago yet. Our young adult group met at our church's sand volleyball court last Tuesday night, my report cards were due the next day, and our all school field day that I helped plan and run was yesterday!

So, my fastest week of training went by quickly in the relative sense. I didn't run any faster than normal, and didn't get quite as many miles in due to all my other time commitments. I am, however, still enjoying my training and have had a lot of enjoyable runs and bike rides.

My favorite run this week was on Sunday morning. Laura and I spent Friday night and most of Saturday at the summer camp where we met, Camp Omega. I was hoping to get a run in on Saturday morning, but was awaken to the sound of pouring rain and thunder. Sunday morning, however, we were in Rochester to celebrate an early father's day and the birthdays of grandpapa and my brother-in-law, Joe.

Before the party, I got up, did a little more work on field day, and set out on a two hour run. About four miles in, I encountered a family of three investigated a snapping turtle that had planted itself in the center of the Cascade Trail. I chatted with them for a bit, and then the dad said, "Let's see if we can get it to move." He began to roll his stroller towards the eighteen-inch long turtle.

Visions of the turtle using its powerful jaws and sharp beak to snap the jogging stroller's front tire asunder popped into my mind's eye. "Careful," I said, "it will snap your tire." A look of surprise formed on the father's face as he thought better of, "getting the turtle to move." He reversed the stroller's direction, potentially diverted a blown out stroller tire.

A little down the road I encountered a runner walking on the trail. We exchanged pleasantries, and since I was ready for my walk break, I joined him for a bit as he talked to me about the Chicago Marathon, his career as a Marine and Delta pilot, and his joint problems as a result of ejecting from a fighter jet during the first Gulf War. At 65 years old, he was still going strong, running marathons in under four hours.

Though I put in the least of amount of time running and biking this week--about four hours--I still felt good about my week of training. I've been keeping up with my core workouts, have been sleeping better, and am still enjoying training for Team World Vision. On almost every run I think about those without clean water, and this thought helps me put my minor setbacks into perspective.

My school year is over on Wednesday, at which point I'll dedicate more time to running, biking, and strength training.

Once again, if you feel so inclined, consider making a donation to World Vision. Visit my fundraising page and consider a donation in any amount.

Happy Running!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Chicago Marathon Training - Week 5

Another week down in the Chicago Marathon training and Team World Vision Fundraising. This week I spent a little over six hours biking and running. I also managed to squeeze in three decent strength and core workouts. Although I only have eight school days left, there are still a myriad of things to get done before the school year ends.

My favorite workout this week was a trip to Lake Calhoun with Laura. One of our favorite summer pastimes is driving to Minneapolis to run around the chain of lakes. We got a little bit of a late start, and by the time we got there it was almost 80 degrees.

Traditional preparations for a long run at the chain of lakes
We had an enjoyable run, despite the heat. We ran together for a bit, then parted ways to run our separate distances and paces. It was a great way to spend the day before our seventh wedding anniversary.

I'm down to eight school days left, and am looking forward to have a little more time to spend training. I know this last week-and-a-half of school is going to go by quick--I just hope the kids don't tear the place down before then.

Feel free to check out my Team World Vision fundraising page. I still have four months to raise about $800. A donation in any amount is appreciated.

Happy Running!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Chicago Marathon Training: Week 4

Training for the Chicago Marathon continues to truck along. Weather in the Twin Cities has been gorgeous. Sunny mornings, comfortably warm temperatures, and dry conditions have made training enjoyable up to this point. Knowing hot, humid weather is coming makes me enjoy the temperate conditions even more.

While my fundraising for Team World Vision has hit a standstill, I'm hoping that an announcement in my school newsletter and a mailing in the next couple weeks will get things rolling again. I appreciate all the continued prayers and support.

The highlight of my week was a 12 mile long run down to the Fort Snelling Minnesota River Trail. I'll leave you with some photos my two hour run along the river.

After two miles, the end of the line

Ran across the MN River on the Highway 77 Pedestrian Bridge

View of the bridge from the west side of the river

A spring along the Minnesota River Bottoms Trail where I rinsed the chunks of mud off my shoes
Back up the pedestrian bridge

View of the boat launch and a fisherman from the 77 pedestrian bridge
I met two friendly bikers along the way. One bike told me that turning southwest from the 77 bridge is the Minnesota River Bottom Trail. I directed the other friendly biker, originally from southern California and currently residing in Des Moines, back to his Mall of America hotel.

Once again, thank you for reading. I appreciate all the prayers, well-wishes, and financial support.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Chicago Marathon Training - Week 3

I'm down to twenty weeks of training for the Chicago Marathon. I've been blessed the past week in the following ways:
  • A chiropractic treatment that really loosened up the Achilles tendon that's been bothering me since November.
  • Generous donations from friends and family to World Vision, totaling $510 so far.
  • Some fantastic runs and bike rides, including a group run with other Team World Vision runners and a long bike with my brother-in-law, Joe.

It's been an unseasonably cool spring in Minnesota, and while that makes for some cold feet while bike riding, it's made for some great runs.

The Chicago Marathon will be the sixth marathon I've raced since 2009. I've learned something different every training cycle, and my training for Chicago will probably be the most unique of all the marathons. Rather than setting goal mileage for each week, I'm writing in goal workouts, and running based on how I feel that particular day.

While I have been enjoying most all of my training thus far, the best part has been running for Team World Vision. Being part of the global community has been one of my passions since I moved to Oahu when I was 10 years old. Praying for peace, social justice, and the spiritual wherewithal for all people, rich or poor, slave or free, righteous and unrighteous, brings me amazing joy.

I know I'm no better than any of these people, and I realize that any support I can offer to my fellow human beings is a drop in the bucket of human need. However, I invited any and all of my readers to join me and support me for the next twenty weeks as I train for the Chicago Marathon while raising money for World Vision.

Thank you for all your support thus far. I'll leave you with this little tidbit from a letter written to the Christian church in Ephesus:

11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. 14 We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15 But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Chicago Marathon Training - Weeks 1 and 2

I'm two weeks into my training for the Chicago Marathon. Week one went well with four runs and three bike rides. I spent about five hours running or biking, and besides Achilles tendonitis and a sore knee, I felt about as good as I had in a few months of running.

Week two included four runs and three bike rides for a total of about four hours and forty-five minutes of running and biking.

Highline Trail
Saturday morning included an embarrassing fall on the bike at a busy intersection near Easter church. I was leaning the wrong way at the stoplight and failed to get my foot out of my right toe clip when I mistimed the stoplight.

I fell over in slow motion right in front of the car making a right-hand turn in front of the bike path. The light then turned green, and I was able to quickly right myself and start pedaling south on Pilot Knob. Though my left knee hurt for a bit, it quickly loosened back up and I was able to get a good workout riding the ups-and-downs of Eagan's Highline Trail.

I've been seeing a fantastic chiropractor in Eagan who is also a distance runner. Yesterday he gave me a treatment on my Achilles, and this morning was the best it felt in several weeks. I'm now off for an easy run this morning. The sky looks clear as the sun is beginning to peak through my window.

Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers if you're so inclined. I've already raised $360 for World Vision--almost a third of my goal of $1310.

Check out my fundraising page through Team World Vision:

Monday, May 12, 2014

Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon

Springtime has brought me a rush of inspiration about running. The outdoors, other runners, and longer days have me feeling better about my running, work, and life. On Saturday, I drove up to Avon, Minnesota to watch some friends run in the Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon.

I've been talking with my good friend Jon about his training since January, and I wanted to surprise him with an appearance at his race. I arrived at Avon in time to watch Jon run by mile 18 around 9 AM.

During a two mile jog while I waited for Jon, I ran into my buddy, Dan LaPlante. I told him to get moving because he was less than a minute behind the third place runner. I jogged with him a while (if you can call running around 6:30 / mile jogging), said some motivational garbage to him, then ran back to see Jon.

Jon at mile 18
After Jon went by, I called Jon's wife, Linda, to let her know I was headed to mile 20 to catch Jon again before the finish. Jon was still looking strong at 20, and so were several other runners who passed by.

Jon still looking strong at mile 20

Linda showed up to meet me at mile 20, so I asked her if I could jump in her car and ride to the finish. I wanted to run a few more miles, so heading back to my car from St. Joseph seemed like the perfect way to spend fifty minutes of a beautiful day.

The finish area was a gorgeous central Minnesota May morning.  I got several shots of the joy and determination on runners' faces as they ended their 26.2 mile journey from Holdingford to St. Joseph.

Dan LaPlante coming in at 2:52:26 in fourth place

Jon bringing it home after yakking around mile 21

Just short of his BQ

It was tough to watch Jon finish in 3:05:48. Even though it was a 12 minute PR, he missed his BQ by 49 seconds--less than 2 seconds-per-mile.

After Jon hung out in the medical tent for a bit, Linda and I let the mixed emotions of such an amazing race sink in for Jon. It was great to hang out with the two of them for a while, congratulate some of the top finishers, and chill out in the grass on a beautiful morning.

Jon, Linda, and puppy with the St. Joseph water tower
I jogged through a field and back onto the trail. I spent around 6 miles cheering for runners as they neared the finish, and got to see another running friend, Leah Blix.

I ended my day with Jon and Linda at the Maple Grove Granite City where we enjoyed good food, beer and conversation.

Now I'm back with my own training, and hoping to stay healthy as I wind up my base phase of training for the Chicago Marathon. My knees weren't happy with me for falling on my bike Sunday morning, but that's a story for another post.

Happy Running!

Team World Vision

I love to run, but sometimes the time I spend running seems selfish. With so much need in the world and so many ways I could spend my time, taking 6 - 10 hours each week to run, bike, and strength train makes me think about how else I could spend my time. With so much need in the world, I think about how I could spend more time and money volunteering and fundraising, and less time and money on running, shoes, and races.

The amount of need in the world is truly daunting, and it's tempting to become hopeless when faced with so many people with so many needs. Whether those in need are the victims of circumstance, an unjust government, or lack the proper resources to thrive, there are millions of people who can benefit from those of us who live in abundance.

It's so tempting to compare ourselves to those with a little (or a lot) more than we have. While many of us in United States have our own set of problems--student loan debt, mortgages, and being too busy to enjoy time our friends and family, there are people in our community and in our world who do not have enough food, clothing, shelter, or clean water to thrive.

According to, there are over 345 million people without access to clean water in Africa alone.

With all these things in mind, I've decide that for my next marathon I'll spend more time trying to raise money for Team World Vision, and less time reading, obsessing, and talking about running.

I'll be posting more about my training and updating my readers about my fundraising progress. Those of you who are inclined to pray, and those of you inclined to include my in your thoughts, please do so. You can visit my fundraising page at Team World Vision. You're also invited to e-mail or send me a message through Facebook to ask me any questions about my training or fundraising.

Thank you for reading.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Weekend Reading: To Be a Runner

Martin Dugard's, "To Be a Runner" is unlike any running book I've read so far. It combines elements of memoir, training advice, and the philosophy of running, exercise, and goal setting.

Like most running books, I could quibble with some of Dugard's training advice, but as a whole it was a beautifully written book. Dugard invites readers into his thoughts on running and his journey as a runner and high school cross country coach. His ideas on how running helps to make him a better person through goal setting and experiencing the outdoors really hit home for me.

Dugard's writing contains enough snippets about training and the inner life of a runner to satisfy serious runners looking for a fresh perspective on training. At the same time, his writing is accessible and compelling enough to bring along readers who are only casually interested in running.

Happy Running!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Running Poem: Fade Together

"Fade Together"

Running the dirt-packed path,
hopping over the small stream,
looking to the backwaters
where the waterfowl float
on the burning water lit by
the rising sun

Thoughts fading to the same path
in the snow--
the crunch of snowshoes,
the sound of
their aluminum frames
snapping up and down
with the rhythm of my steps.

Fades into the path
through the suburban trees
where I stopped my steps
to see a coyote standing in the path staring back at me.

Reminds me of the gravel road
outside Lake Bemidji
when first one, then two dogs
chased me away
from their farmhouses.

My heart's beating fast,
so I slow it down by remembering the run
looking down on the Mississippi
where the northern ice floated
to melt downstream.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Running Poem: Lost Shoes

Seeing lost, lone shoes on the side if the road is a common occurrence for anyone who travels. When I'm running, especially, I seem to come across these lonely shoes several times a month. Running the same routes, these shoes will often sit lost and abandoned for days, even weeks on end.

Looking at a shoe on the side of the road, I can't help but wonder where the shoe's  match went, or why the shoe lost its partner in an intersection, or by a park, or in the middle of the street.

"Lost Shoe"

This morning I saw a child's shoe--
an ivory-slipper, still glittery,
now stained with the muck that flings off
car tires
in the spring.

I thought about the little girl
who lost the shoe--
did she kick if off as she rode in her stroller
while having a tantrum?

Or was the small slipper thrown
out a car window
in a fit of rage
over the absence of a snack,
or a book not shared?

Did the shoe fall off
because it was too big and as she ran
to catch up to her mommy and daddy,
it slipped off her foot?

I ran past the shoe
and soon forgot about the little girl--
the hole in the toe of her tights
as she sat in church--
one shoe on, one painted toenail
pointing to heaven.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Running Poems

My frequent readers and friends know that while I run early in the morning, in the later afternoon, and on weekends, much of my time is spent at school teaching fifth and sixth graders. I also spend a good amount of "free" time reading my students' writing, reading books they're reading, and planning lessons to try to get fifth and sixth graders excited about reading.

As a result, I haven't spent near as much time as I would like reading for my own enjoyment. I also haven't written as much as I've wanted, read as much as I've wanted, or worked out as much as I've wanted. I missing the TC One Mile to take the 5th graders on an overnight field trip, and while I'm excited about spending the night at the Science Museum, I'm sad that I'll miss this race for the first time in three years.

I am, however, having a fun time teaching poetry to 5th and 6th graders. In college I loved reading poetry, and even dabbled in writing it as well. So, since I'm not carving out quite enough time to write narratives that I enjoy, I'm starting to try my hand at some running poems. I've always considered most of my poetry to be doggerel, but I thought if I threw some first and second drafts of poems on this blog, I'd be able to put myself out there a little more.

Besides, I ask my students to share their poetry with their peers, so I think it's only fair that I share some of mine. So, here's my first:


Cold and dark,
wearing a trash bag
and free gloves,
Laura and Nate's first marathon
Goodwill sweatshirt and sweatpants.

Huddled in a mass
still shivering before
the gray buildings are bathed
with the eastern sky's light.

Sprung tight as a spring,
heart beating in time to the pulse
of the race,
starting in five, now three, now one

Now moving
holding back to keep from the wall
too soon.

The sun now creeping
into my eyes.

The motion, inertia,
the miles click by as
high fives are given,

The pain as the lightning bolt
cramps hit the thighs and the calves
and now walking, now crying.

Finishing, looking at the clock
that has too much time on it.

Happy Running!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Pace Report: Earth Day 1/2 Marathon

My Easter weekend started on Good Friday afternoon when I caught a ride up to St. Cloud with Pacer Trevor. It was nice to get off work a little early on Friday--teaching 5th and 6th graders has been keeping me busy, and there's nothing like work to get in the way of my running.

The Earth Day 1/2 Marathon folks put on a nice expo, but it sure was loud. After spending a couple hours at the expo, I asked Trevor to drive me to the hotel so I could change and go for a little jog. I wanted to practice my pace of 7:38 / mile before the race. I also wanted to leave because a band had set up next to the pacer booth. It wasn't that the music was bad, but the blaring music from the band competing with the music on the other side of the field house at the kids' activity area was combining to give me a headache.

My three mile jog of 7:38 / mile went well. I then ate a mediocre pasta dish from Green Mill (the salad and bread were good), watched half of Forrest Gump, and had a night of halfway decent sleep, interrupted briefly when Laura arrived at the hotel room at 10 PM. We slept in to the late hour of 6 AM, so we had a little time to lounge around the hotel, watch a little TV, and do a little schoolwork.

The 1:40 pacer and his trophy wife

We arrived at the St. Cloud State campus at 7:30 to meet up with the pace team and get a team photo taken. Then, Pacer Captain Dave (newly minted by Pacer Sam), led us out to the start line to be 20 minutes early for the 8:30 AM start.

The fearless pace team
The start line was cold-as-heck. The wind was blowing through the wind tunnel of the starting area, so I was grateful for the large contingent of runners crowded around the start line.
<Image Credit>
The race itself was just like I remembered it from 2012. Though it was really windy at times, the rain held off and the air temperature was high enough that I was comfortable in shorts, a long-sleeve, and a running cap.

It was a big race, and for most of it I had a large group of people around me. About six miles in I got to chatting with a middle school social studies teacher from Edina Public Schools. We had a great chat about education and his coaching of middle school track and cross country, so the four-ish miles I spent with him really flew by.

The social studies teacher picked up the pace after 10 miles, so I spent the rest of the race shouting encouragement at my pacees and giving high-fives to kids along the course. With about half-a-mile left, I challenged one of the gals in my pace group to beat me to the finish since I was going to be a little slower than 1:40:00.

Unfortunately, she did not pass me, but she and several other members of my pace group offered kind words of gratitude, even though I finished at 1:40:11. It wasn't my best performance, but I did have a blast chatting with runners. St. Cloud State has really put together a fun event for runners, kids, and spectators.

Laura also ran the half marathon, and she had a blast as well. After the race, we packed up, had some Green Mill pizza (delicious), and went down to Rochester to celebrate Easter with her side of the family.

Happy Running!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

California Running

Besides getting to run the Modesto Half Marathon, I got to do another pretty sweet run while visiting California. The day we left San Francisco, Laura and I got up early and took the city bus from our downtown hotel to the Golden Gate Bridge. We hopped off the bus at the visitor center and ran across the bridge and back.

Before running

The Golden Gate Bridge is over a mile long, and it was pretty cool running so high above the bay. The views down to the water and up to the incredibly tall bridge were amazing on the bright, sunshiny morning.

After running across the bridge and back, we ran down a trail to Presidio, a beautiful ocean-front park. We ran down to the water, then kicked off our shoes and ran on the beach.


Following the Modesto 1/2 Marathon, my cousin Chris led my Aunt Wanda, Laura, and I in a Cross Fit Workout. Thankfully he spent a good amount of time letting us do some foam rolling, because my  legs were sore after that thing!

Wanda, Chris, Nate

Nate, Chris, Laura

The weather is starting to get nicer around these parts. While it was great getting to run some in California, I love running in the spring in Minnesota (when it's not pouring down rain, sleet, or snow).

Happy Running!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Modesto1/2 Marathon: Race Report

Our California vacation was fantastic. We saw four national parks, toured the city of San Francisco, and got to spend some quality time with family and friends. The weather was awesome--I thoroughly enjoyed getting out of the freezing Minnesota temperatures and spending some time outside the general store of Death Valley's Furnace Creek Ranch, sipping on a drink in the 87 degree weather.

After all our national park fun, we headed to Modesto to run the Surgical Artistry Modesto 1/2 Marathon. The city of Modesto wasn't overly exciting--lots of fast food places, gas stations, big box stores, and overall a very standard medium-sized city. We enjoyed our hotel stay at the Best Western on Friday night, then Saturday went to the expo.

The expo was held at a large church, and was pretty busy when we got there around 11 AM. Probably the strangest part of the expo was the Surgical Artistry booth at the beginning of the expo with lots of information on cosmetic surgery and several sample breast implants sitting out on the table. Otherwise, the expo was pretty standard for a race of its size. I did enjoy the Pizza Hut booth's generous provision of free samples.

On Sunday morning the race started at the same location as the expo. It was a good-sized crowd running both the half and full marathon, but after saying goodbye to Laura, I didn't have much trouble getting towards the front of the start.

Before the race

The course was pretty decent. It wasn't amazingly scenic as it started by going through an industrial district. Soon, however, the race headed to the outskirts of Modesto and through some almond groves. The course was extremely flat and the only hill I can remember was an on ramp for when we ran briefly on a highway.

I tried not to push it too much as I'm still trying to recover from a sore calf and knee. I picked it up a little at the end of the race, and once again let my competitive side get the best of me at the end. With about a half mile to go, I thought I was running alone, but then I heard someone cheer, "way to go, guys!" 'Guys,' I thought. I looked over my shoulder and sure enough, one of the dudes I passed a while ago was gaining ground on me.

I could have stuck to my pace and not worried about beating anyone, but once again my competitive nature got the best of me. I picked up the pace, not wanting to be passed in the last quarter mile of the race.

I ended up finishing it 1:26:53--not horrible for having run very few miles in the past couple months while trying to heal up my little nagging injuries. I finished 14th overall, 12th male, and 3rd in my age group. Unfortunately I had no idea I finished 3rd in my age group, so I failed to pick up my award from the booth.

Laura had fun running the race as well, and afterward we wrapped up our stay in Modesto by meeting Laura's cousin and her husband for lunch at the Dust Bowl Brewery in Turlock.

It was a great trip to California, and as I'm watching snow flurries swirling around outside my window, I'm already missing the warm weather. We did get a couple nice days yesterday and the day before, so I can't complain too much.

I'm increasing my mileage again and trying to get into some kind of shape to start a training plan in a couple months. I've registered for the Chicago Marathon, so I'm hoping that I can get healthy and put in a solid several months of training to run a good marathon time.

Happy Running!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

California Bound

In a couple of hours, Laura and I will be flying out of this frozen wasteland we call Minnesota. A couple hours later, we'll land in the beautiful countryside of California. I'm pumped for some sun, warmer weather, and getting to see the sights of San Francisco for a couple of days.

After we tour San Francisco and see some family, we're heading south to see Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia, and Death Valley National Parks. In between we'll catch some other California sights.

Then, on March 23, we'll run the Modesto 1/2 Marathon. I have no big ambitions for the race--I decided to finally just take a week off of running altogether in hopes of having my small nagging injuries finally clear up. I'll get in a couple runs while in California, but I've got no goals for the Modesto 1/2 Marathon other than putting in a solid effort.

I'm pumped for this trip, getting to some warmer weather, and adding to our list of national parks we've visited. It's going to be a good one!

Happy Running!

Monday, February 24, 2014

"Nice Run"

Trail head on a less-snowy day
I woke up on President's Day morning to some light snow mist. At the early hour of 5 AM, my Honda was dusted with snow. By 8 AM, when I headed out the door to run, a solid 2" of the white stuff coated the entire west side of my car.

The drive to the Big Rivers Regional Trail was a slow one. The plows hadn't hit the side streets of Donald Ave and Lentendre, making the hill down to Highway 13 a bit treacherous. The normal cruising speed of 50 mph on Highway 13 was reduced to a slow 30 mph.

The parking lot for the Big Rivers Regional Trail surprisingly contained a couple of cars. I headed southwest on the trail to run into the wind on the out portion of the run. Sharp snow sliced into my checks and froze on my beard. The sunglasses and cap I wore to protect my eyes gave me a decent view of the trail, and the screw studs drilled into the bottoms of my Kinvaras allowed for some traction on the fresh blanket of snow.

For the first mile, I followed a bike tire trail and a set of footprints. Wondering if I would catch up to the pedestrian, I climbed the bridge off the Big Rivers Trail to the trail paralleling I-494 toward Bloomington. Soon, I came to the other runner, now headed in my direction. "Beautiful day for a run!" he said. "It is!" I said.

Turning around a couple of miles from the trail head, I ran with the wind to my back. My sunglasses quickly fogged up, but after giving them a couple of swipes with my mittens, I could see just enough to stay on the trail.

When I arrived back to my Honda, I found the words, "nice run" scrawled on my windshield, presumably drawn by the gloved finger of the runner I'd passed on the 494 trail. It was a nice day for a run.

Happy Running!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

What's it Worth to Run?
<image credit: Runner's World>

A few days ago I read an article in Runner's World where the author gets this running assessment thing. She finds out she's got weak glutes and some other stuff. The article  had a lot more to it, but  the gist was the author had been chronically injured, and she wasn't able to run as much as she wanted.

One quote in the article that really stuck out to me was from one of the doctors at this NYU RunSmart clinic. He said, "I tell my patients to channel that energy and frustration into their rehab. Get mad. If you commit to that and do that, then when you get back to running, you'll see real progress." The author of the article ends up making some improvements in her functional strength and all that, but it sounded pretty expensive (though the article made the $325 assessment seem like a bargain).

Anyhow, you can read a synopsis of the article on the Runner's World website. Seems there are some places around these parts that do that sort of thing. I'm pretty sure I won't, but the article in the magazine gave some good exercise tips.

I'm slowly making some progress with my running, though I'm having a hard time shaking a sore hamstring, calf, and knee. I'm looking forward to spring showing up so I can run on a surface other than snow, ice, treadmill belt, or indoor track.

Tomorrow I'm looking forward to running in beautiful 20+ degree weather and snow, followed by a little yoga.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Weekend Reading: Eat and Run

Sometime before Christmas, Laura and I went shopping. Shopping as in, Laura shopped and I sat in Barnes and Noble reading, "Eat and Run" by Scott Jurek and Steve Friedman. I had the opportunity to see Jurek speak at an event during the Boston Marathon weekend back in 2011, and had read about him in the book, "Born to Run." I knew Jurek was an amazing ultra runner as well as a vegan, both of which are topics of interest to me.

After reading the first five chapters or so in the Rochester Barnes and Noble, I decided a couple of months later to pick the book up from the library. It turns out that not only is Jurek an amazing runner and all-vegan athlete, he's also somewhat of a gourmet vegan chef.

Co-written with accomplished sportswriter Steve Friedman, Jurek tells a compelling story of his journey to ultra running greatness and his adoption of a vegan diet. Even for those not interested in running, Jurek's personal story chronicling the highs (wins at some of the biggest ultra marathons in the world), and lows (his mother's MS, a falling out with his father) of his career and personal life will keep them turning the pages.

"Eat and Run" got me interested in trying a vegan diet. However, though the recipes included at the end of each chapter sound delicious, they also contain around 21 ingredients per recipe. I like cooking and eating healthy, but at this point in my busy-enough life I'd rather spend time reading, writing, and watching birds than driving to Whole Foods to get bulk bulgur wheat for a 24-ingredient chili (read the recipe here).

Still, if you like making complicated stuff, the recipes do sound tasty and the writing and story kept me turning the pages of "Eat and Run."

Happy Running!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Securian 1/2 Marathon

Two words for this race: cold. I'm going to grow my full beard back and coat my face in Vaseline the next time I run 13 miles when the windchill is -16 degrees Fahrenheit.

Although the Securian 1/2 Marathon was frigid, at least Securian opens its building to runners so we can hang around inside to get ready to brave the cold. Laura and I got to the building over an hour before the start, and were able to park in Securian's covered parking ramp.

After looking at the shirts and picking up a free mug, we got our race numbers, said "hi" to some of my pacing buddies, and met our friends Jon and Linda. We sat comfortably on the carpeted floor, waiting to venture out into the slick, windy, downtown streets of St. Paul to run the half marathon.

About 20 minutes before the race began, I went to look for a bathroom inside the building. I ran into Don, the 1:30 pacer, and Dan, the run-everywhere ultra runner. "Do you know where there's a bathroom?" I asked.

"The one that was open last year is locked," Don replied.

"Shoot, I guess I'll have to go outside and use the port-o-potties," I said.

"I'll go with you," said Dan. So, like a couple of female BFFs, Dan and I scampered across the street to use the port-o-potties. The line was only about three deep, but the wind whipping down Jackson Street was ridiculous. When the air temperature is only three degrees, a 16 mph wind channeled between the buildings of downtown St. Paul is not a pleasant feeling.

Once my bladder was cleared, I ran back in the building to stay out of the wind for ten more minutes before the start. Laura, Linda, Jon and I said some pre-race words of commiseration and ran out to the start about a minute before they let us ago. I lined up with the 1:30 pace team lead by Don and Dan. After the irregular starting instructions of, "On your marks... 30 seconds... go!" we ran past the fireworks display (which was announced dozens of times to avoid scaring anyone) and wound our way through downtown St. Paul to Shepard Road for the out-and-back portion of the race.

The wind was blowing and gusting from the northwest, so running west south west for the first portion of the race was not overly comfortable. Dan, Don and I chatted off and on, and Don did a nice job of letting runners know about all the slick spots throughout the race.

A little before the turn around I decided it was time to push the pace. "You taking off?" asked Don. "For now," I said. "See you at the finish."

Running back toward downtown wasn't much more comfortable than running away from it. My hands were freezing, my face was getting numb, and I kept having to move to different portions of the road to find firm footing.

I never knew quite how fast I was running since I forgot my Garmin, but I knew I was running just a little slower than I felt like I could run the last half of the race. I did manage to catch up to to a few people. I passed a few, turned back into downtown, ran up a couple of miserable hills, made several slick turns, all while having the wind blow against me so hard I felt like I was running in place. I got passed by a few more runners and finally finished.

The clock said 1:21:something, which I thought was a little fast. It turned out it was the clock for the 10k race. My actual time was 1:26:21. Running the last 6.5 in slick, cold, windy conditions at a 6:22 pace isn't too bad I guess, but my lower legs were miserable after.

After the race I was a little concerned that I hadn't seen Linda or Laura on either of the sections we went by runners going the other direction. I thought maybe they'd decided to just run the 10k, but when I didn't see them at the finish I had to hope that I'd just missed them.

When Jon finished, he let me know that he had seen them, so I was able to relax a little. My lower legs were killed me, so I went over and got some post-race massage and stretching from a therapist. She let me know what I suspected--I have a lot of knots, and probably have some muscle weakness and imbalance stressing my feet and legs in ways they're not used to.

I was having a hard time not feeling down about all the little nagging pains I've had the last couple months. My mileage is low, and while my knee's been pretty good, I've been having pains in my ankles, feet, calves, and Achilles tendons.

Fortunately our friends Brit and Jared came with their little twin one-year-olds, Laura and Linda finished safely and successfully, and we all went to Dixies on Grand. We had a great time eating and chatting, so I was able to forget about my stupid legs.

Now, I'll be deciding what to do about my lower legs. I've been doing a little yoga, but I may need to go see my physical therapist again and get a little more serious about doing some exercise to correct whatever problems I'm having.

Happy Running!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Another Weekend, Another Race

Whether I'm ready or not, racing season seems to have already started. I've already paid for two races, the Yukon Days 3 mile Snowshoe Race and tomorrow's Securian Half Marathon, where Laura will be running her first race of the year. I'm now debating whether or not to sign up for the Afton Trail Run 50k in July, and then the Chicago Marathon in October.

I guess tomorrow's half marathon is not really a "race" for me, as my training has been pretty miserable up to this point. If I want to run the Afton 50k, I'm really going to have to stay on top of keeping up with injury prevention and start running a little more consistently.

I want to train for a 50k again for two main reasons. First of all, I really enjoyed my last Afton 50k. Secondly, I love telling people I'm training for a 50k so they get all impressed and say something like, "that's so far." Plus, it's great when people ask, "how far is 50k?"

I like to think that I'm not some running snob who thinks that anyone who has to ask, "how far is a 5k?" or, "how far is your marathon?" is a total moron. I am, however, a little bit of a math snob. So when a runner or someone who I know has run multiple 5ks asks me how far a 50k is, I have a really hard time not saying, "try multiplying 3.1 miles by 10, genius."

I have such a hard time not saying that or something like it, that sometimes I do mistakenly let my math snobbery slip and say, in a real sarcastic manner, "well, a 5k is 3.1 miles and a 50k is ten times farther than that." It feels mean, but sometimes I just can't help it. It amazes me how many people make it through life without being able to multiply by ten. Of course, if we just went with the international system of measurement and measured everything by kilometers and all those other great metric measurements, none of this would be a problem.

Tomorrow the Securian Half Marathon may be cut to a quarter marathon due to horribly cold weather. A quarter marathon is half of a half marathon, and a half marathon is 21k. Since I've learned from experience that most people have no interest in doing the math to figure it out, a quarter marathon is 10.5 kilometers, or 6.55 miles. I guess I'll find out tomorrow morning if I'll be running 13.1 miles in bone-chilling wind chills of -17 degrees Fahrenheit, or only 6.55 miles in internal organ-freezing wind chills of -20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Happy Running! 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Race Report: Yukon Days 3 mile Snowshoe

I don't know of any races in Minnesota that take place entirely on a frozen lake other than the events at Yukon Days. I suppose I could do a Google search to find out, but opening up a new tab in my browser and typing all that in seems like an awful lot of work.

Packet pick-up for Yukon Days was at C.G. Hooks Eatery, conveniently located across the street from the lake. When I went inside to get my number and Yukon Days sweatshirt, I ran into Jim McDoonell. Jim taught a "Running with Snowshoes" class in February of 2010 (read about it here). I said "hi" and thanked him for the class.

He seemed to remember me, but he may have just been being polite. Either way, he's a pretty tough guy. At 60 years old he's still racing in a kilt, singlet, and arm warmers. While the temperature on the lake was warmer than the polar vortex we'd just finished, a northwest breeze put the windchill around 10 degrees Fahrenheit--not kilt weather if you ask me.

After pinning on my number and dropping my sweatshirt in the car, I strapped on my snowshoes and started heading down to the lake. Halfway down the bank, I checked the back pocket of the shorts I was wearing under my running pants to make sure I had my car key. An unsuccessful hunt for the key and a subsequent rise in my anxiety level made for a perfect warmup. Resigned to the fact that my key was either buried under the snow or locked in my car, I went back towards the lake, planning to call Laura to get me after the race.

As I stepped down the steep bank, I felt something in the front pocket of my running pants--the mystery of the missing key was solved. Fortunately it was too late for my body to bring down my heart rate and turn down my adrenal glands; I was ready to race.

Following a short warmup, I chatted with a friendly runner from Minneapolis, got well-wished from Jim, and started off on the three-mile trek around White Bear Lake. I ran behind the two lead runners for about 100 yards, but the pace was feeling pretty slow, so I decided to pick it up and run in the lead.

The course was a laid out with cones in the shape of the triangle with sides of 1.2, 0.8, and 1 mile long. About a quarter-mile before the first turn, the binding on my right snowshoe slipped off my shoe and up around my ankle. It was a little uncomfortable, so I decided if I felt like I had enough of a lead at the turn I would fix it.

Alas, as I turned left to run past the fish house village on White Bear Lake, the two gentlemen were still close behind me. My unreasonably competitive nature pushed me forward, risking a welt around my ankle to hold my lead.

Running past the fish houses was the best part of the race. I was kind of hoping the fisherman would come out of their houses--maybe do a little cheering, offer some refreshments, or scream things like, "you're scaring all the fish away!" or, "this lake is for fishermen, not yuppies running in snowshoes!"

For the second time I was disappointed. The only fishermen I saw were two guys drilling a hole with a gas-powered auger and some kid in snow pants jumping over holes in the ice. There were a couple fresh holes along the course, and my dark side secretly hoped that one of the two runners behind me would step in a hole and the other one would stop to help. Then, I could fix my binding and win the race in comfort.

Karma paid me back for my evil thought by subtly slipping the binding of my other snowshoe onto my ankle. The two runners were still close behind me at the next turn, so I had to suffer with ankle discomfort for the last mile of the race.

My lungs began to heat up and my legs felt heavy as I prayed to see the finish line through the foggy winter weather. The last half mile was really tough. There was a one mile race before the three mile snowshoe, and the runners had left the snow all sloppy, making footing a problem. I pushed ahead, slipping and sliding left and right, somehow keeping my balance.

I did manage to keep my lead, and finished first out of 47 runners in a time of 21:45. I cheered for about ten minutes and chatted with the second and third place runners for a bit. The second place dude was running the three mile "no snowshoe" race next, where he ended up finishing fifth.

Jim came in eighth overall, and his legs looked pretty cold and red after running in a kilt. Talk about tough.

I won a sweet mug for my effort, out of which I'm savoring the sweet taste of victory (it tastes like coffee) as I type this race report.

Training didn't go so hot last week--I was pretty busy with work and other commitments. I'm hoping the long MLK weekend and fewer weeknight obligations this week will help me get back into a better training routine.

Happy Running!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Cold Racing Time

It's time for my first race of the year, and I'm super-pumped. While pacing Polar Dash was fun (for awhile), I can't really count it as a race. My time of 1:40:50 will probably be an all-time 14 mile best since 14 mile races are very rare, but despite feeling Arctic-explorerly tough, Polar Dash was not a race kind of effort.

On Saturday, however, I will be running a race-effort. I am registered for the Yukon Days 3 mile snowshoe race. While I've only run in snowshoes once this year, I'm going to try to get out again tomorrow morning. I had a blast racing the Yukon Days 6 mile in snowshoes a few of years ago.

I was a little bummed that they didn't have a 6 mile snowshoe this year, but it's probably for the best. My right knee still isn't 100%, and now I'm having some issues with my lower leg on the other side. I was telling my chiropractor the other day that it's hard for me to remember a time when something wasn't sore in my legs. When I'm "healthy," I'm usually sore from higher mileage or tough workouts, and when I'm not, there's something bothering me in my hip, calf, knee, or whatever else can get sore in my leg.

I don't even care though. I love running and I love racing. There's something about competition that just gets me fired up. As of today, fog is in the forecast for Saturday, so the scenery should look as sweet as it did three years ago.

2011 Yukon Days

Happy Running!