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!