Monday, September 14, 2015

Race Report: Shoreline Half Marathon

Until further notice, this'll be my last detailed race report for a while. They seem mostly redundant at this point, so I'll probably start using them more as reviews and less as stream-of-consciousness replays of my races.

Embedded in this race report are some clues as to what made this half marathon special. If you think you've solved the mystery, feel free to leave a comment on this blog post, but please refrain from making any comments on other social media outlets.

Way back in July, Laura and I ran the Shoreline Half Marathon. We like to run a race when we travel, and Laura's got this goal of running a half marathon in every state, so we picked this one as part of an extended road trip from Washington D.C. to Niagra Falls, Canada, over to Hamlin Beach State Park in New York, and back to D.C.

 On the shore of Lake Ontario before the race
 The marathon started on the shore of Lake Ontario. Before the race I had been dealing with a pretty miserable cold that ended up turning into an ear infection. Really, I shouldn't have been the one dealing with sickness--that should have been Laura's department.

Up until the night before the race, I was considering switching to the 5k. My last run in Niagra Falls was only two miles--I'd set out to run four or five, but my cold had me so exhausted I ended up running one and then run/walking back to the hotel.

A break during out run in Niagra Falls, ON

Fortunately, I slept really well that night in Niagra Falls, and took several naps in the hotel and in the car ride over to Hamlin State Park. That night at the state park, I slept great--despite a thunderstorm that woke us up with driving rain and lightning, I probably slept a solid nine hours. Unfortunately, Laura was a little nervous and didn't sleep as well. Besides huddling down in severe weather safety position, she also had to use the bathroom in the middle of the night--a more common occurrence lately.

The next morning I woke up feeling the best I'd felt in days. This turned out to be a mixed blessing. It was hot and humid, but my newfound feeling of well-being gave me a false confidence in my ability to run a fast race.

The first two miles of the race were by far my fastest. The rest of the race was about survival. The course was mainly through the rural area surrounding the state park, and unfortunately I was so miserable during the last two miles that I wasn't able to enjoy the section of the course along Lake Ontario.

Laura fared better than me. She ran the race for fun, taking her time and soaking up the scenery.

Since it was a small race, I somehow managed to win my age group by finishing under an hour and thirty minutes.

Although Laura didn't win an official award, she did manage to set a PR if you consider the fractional aspect of her time.

After the race we enjoyed some post race refreshment, and I received a nice trophy-looking thing along with a jar of delicious, organic, natural peanut butter. Then we dipped our legs into the chilly Lake Ontario water.

I'm going to go have me some of that peanut butter right now. Leave a comment below (not on Facebook) if you think you've solved the embedded clue.

Run well.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Pied Beauty

On a run yesterday, a poem popped into my head. I wrote an explication of "Pied Beauty" for my capstone class for English Literature. Enjoy:

"Pied Beauty"
Glory be to God for dappled things –
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow; 
      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; 
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
   Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
      And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                Praise him.

       by: Gerald Manley Hopkins

I love this poem. Listen to a recording at the Poetry Foundation website.

"Pied Beauty" popped into my head because of all the variance of color and diversity of life I saw as I ran along the Minnesota River.

I've been into reading and listening to poetry a lot more the past couple years, and after teaching poetry to middle and high school students for the last four years, I'm getting more confidence in sharing some poems I've written. I decided to try writing a poem similar to "Pied Beauty" in that I used a similar theme and the same meter and rhyme pattern.

"River Trail Run"

Concrete and steel arching overhead 
   below bronze and olive stained, dark flowing water
onto hard-packed paths by puddles punctuated,
           whose surfaces reflect crimson red.
All fauna and flora each Creator's daughter
    seemed by day and season elated. 

Riveted rust-stained beams, repaired, replaced,  
  joined the sound of men's work and of their laughter.
Watching workers, I hesitated 
    desiring more time, I have now raced

Obviously I'm far less talented of a poet than the late Mr. Hopkins. Still, imitation is the highest form of flattery, so I'm hoping Mr. Hopkins isn't rolling in his grave or planning on haunting me until I take this poem off my blog.

 Run well.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Blessings of Running: Senses

Lately, I've been feeling a little down. Besides feeling an emotional ennui, I've also been dealing with a lot of aches and pains. Running has not been easy.

A couple of weeks ago, I caught part of an On Being episode on the radio as I was driving. The interview was so intriguing, I had to wait in my driveway to finish a section of the interview.

Long story short, I downloaded the podcast, "The Inner Landscape of Beauty." On that episode, Krista Tippett interviewed John O'Donohue, an Irish poet and philosopher. O'Donohue's thoughts, blessings, and poetry spoke to me. While I could write about O'Donohue, the On Being episode, and his book "Anam Cara" for much longer than you would read, I'll instead share some thoughts on one of his blessings.

Running has truly blessed me, and though it's been more painful and less fluid recently, it's still been a needed escape. Here is one of O'Donohue's blessings from his book "Anam Cara."

"A Blessing for the Senses"
May your body be blessed.
May you realize that your body is a faithful and beautiful 

  friend of your soul.
And may you be peaceful and joyful and recognize that your 

  senses are sacred thresholds.
May you realize that holiness is mindful, gazing, feeling, 

   hearing, and touching.
May your senses gather you and bring you home.
May your senses always enable you to celebrate the universe 

  and the mystery and possibilities in your presence here.
May the Eros of the Earth bless you.

– John O’Donohue in "Anam Cara"

Being mindful takes practice. Feeling my feet on the ground when I run, directing my gaze on a solitary spot, or allowing my thoughts and my body to be still are not easy for me.

Still. Being present is food for the body and spirit. Walking, running, or being still without the buzz of a radio, the mindlessness of a smart phone, or the intrusiveness of a television seem foreign to many people.

I'll end with a poem of my own:


My senses are full,

 Minnesota summer air
 humidity and sweat clinging to my shirt.
 listening to 
   hum of traffic, 
   whistling of waterfowl in flight.

   respiration of trees 
   fresh mowed grass.

   flowing waters of the Mississippi 
   an egret creeping in the shallows.

these are enough for my senses.

Run well.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Spending time meaningfully is a lost art. The phrase "killing time" suggest a boredom and lack of productivity, but spending time suggests presence and meaning. One of my favorite poems describes time better than I ever could:

Image credit:

 A Time for Everything

 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace
                                                  ~ Ecclesiastes

The world is a strange place. When you're young, time has a way of slowing down. At age twenty, a year can seem like a long time--and it is. One year is 5% of a twenty year old's life.

When my great grandmother was spending her last days in the nursing home, she would often say, "The days go by slowly, but the years pass quickly." At the time of her death she was ninety eight years of age. She'd lived a good life, but at the end she spent her days in the routine of the nursing home, and with many of her children having died and her other children and grandchildren living far away, her visitors were few and far between.

When she did have visitors, they cared for her very much. My parents would sneak her beer and pizza. She winced the first time they had her try Diet Coke.

My Aunt Anita, a major in the Air Force and a nurse, dressed down the nursing home staff when she found out Grandma Lohmen was no longer getting dessert for dietary reasons.  My Uncle Mark, a pastor, let another Lutheran pastor experience a righteous rebuke when he found out Grandma Lohmen wasn't receiving regular pastoral visits and communion.

Time is a funny thing. In our modern world, it has become the enemy. People rush from task to task, fighting the hectic demands of work and constant communication with people in far away places. How many times do we see a group of friends sitting together, checking Facebook or sending text messages to people who aren't there?

Others who are sick, in the hospital, or passing days in an empty house or the room of a nursing home experience time at a much slower pace. Time can make one downright depressed.

When running, loneliness rarely creeps into my mind. I can be content with my inner world as I experience the movement of the outer world around me. I can run with a group of people as we share stories, laugh, and exert ourselves together.

Time is a strange thing, but it's not the enemy. Time is a gift. Spend it wisely.

Run well.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Jeff the Cyclist, Poetry and Art

Jeff the Cyclist is either Lance Armstrong, Bill Watterson, or a combination of the two.

Image Credit at: Go Comics

Ponder this as you read my bicycling poem:

I wrote the first draft of this poem in April of 2014 as I was biking to work:


The splattering, gritty muck,
that flings from my tires
as I pedal down the street
     goes unnoticed.

I push the pedals
down, standing occasionally
to drive the gear at a high RPM
to drive the cogs on the back.

As the chain revolves
around the gear in
a faster circle,
my thoughts follow suit.

Around they go--
approaching my problem from
every possible angle until
      my thoughts are exhausted.

Which is fortunate--
my mind is tired now,
and the exhaust from the cars
fills my lungs so I
slow down.

I am home now.
Street dirt coats my bike
my legs
my lungs.

My thoughts, however
have stopped spinning and
my problem is exhausted.

Run another one of my poems in Run Minnesota, the July/August issue. You can pick them up from a variety of running stores in the Twin Cities area.

Read more about Bill Watterson here in Mental Floss:
TEAM ‘CUL DE SAC’ AUCTION: Rare Watterson painting sells for $13K.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Time to Think

During the school year, I generally enjoy running by myself. Although I draw a lot of my energy from being around other people, running alone gives me some much needed time for solitude and reflection.

Sitting still and relaxing during times of stress have never been easy for me. The motion of a bike ride or a run helps me work out my frustrations and anxiety while I think about my "problems." I often decide that certain things are not worth the emotional energy I spend as I push my body through a training run.

Backwaters of the Minnesota River near a trail through Fort Snelling State Park

Besides dealing with stressful situations, I also have time for contemplation. Running through wooded areas, along water, or, near other athletes give me energy for becoming a better friend, family member, and resident of earth.

Intrinsically I know I'm no better than any other human being, and I try to live by the verse, "in humility, consider others better than yourself." Often it is easy for me to become self-righteous, questioning others' motivations and actions. On a run I can think about the good qualities of people I'm having a hard time with, and I can realize that I have no idea what their motivations are or why they act the way they do.

Riding my bike to work, I'm often remind how much easier life is than I make it out to be in my mind. I have food, clean water, shelter, and more possessions than any human could possibly need. I don't have to worry about where my next meal is coming from. Loving family, friends, and a community of believers at my church are thinking of me, praying for me, and offering me support--especially in times of stress.

And you, readers of this blog, have offered me a forum where I can share some of my inner thoughts, free from judgment. Admitting weakness, failure, anxiety, and insecurity is not easy for me to do. Too often I've been told, "You're overreacting," or, worse, "What you need to do is..."

Listening is a lost art. I'm not the world's best listener--I'm often thinking of what I want to say rather than really hearing the words of the people around me.

Although listening doesn't always come naturally to me, reading does. Reading an e-mail, Facebook post, or text message is easy for me. Responding to a difficult situation through those mediums is not.

Those who have helped me through difficult situations in life haven't always been those who have given me advice. Rather, they have been the ones who have said, "I don't know what to tell you, but I'm sorry you're going through this," or, "what can I do to help?" or, "I'll keep you in my thoughts."

So, to all of you, thanks for listening.

Run well.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Give Away

If you haven't checked out my new blog, Twin Cities Runner - Coaching, I'd appreciate it if you took a look.

Right now I'm giving away some gently (or never) used race gear and/or a training plan for any type of running program you desire.

So far there's only a couple of entries, so your odds of getting something are pretty good.

Here's a link to the give away:

Happy Running

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Afton Trail Race 50k: Race Report

Part 1: Making it to the start

The night before the Afton 50k, my buddy Jared Gilman and I drove to Afton State Park to chill on the beach, take in the sights of the St. Croix Valley, camp, and hang out with the Gilman family.

Wayne Gilman on the course
The backpacking sights at Afton are about 3/4 of a mile from the parking lot, and most of the hike is uphill. I knew this, but hiking to the site seemed a little tougher than I remembered. Perhaps this was because I hadn't worn a pack loaded with gear for over a year.

At the campsite, Jared and I ate Chicken Marsala with vegetable rottini pasta, drank some beer, and talked about life. Jared's family, Wayne, Jen, Madeline, and Madeline's boyfriend Adam, showed up a little later. They graciously allowed us to share their campsite and their company.

Sleep didn't come easy the night before the race. Every patriot and their uncle celebrated our nation's secession from the British Empire in the most American way possible: by blowing up illegal fireworks the day before the official National Holiday.

The sound of fireworks detonating above the St. Croix River Valley dissipated around two a.m., and I enjoyed a nice rest of an hour or so before a new sound disrupted my slumber.

This particular whippoorwill thought it would be a good idea to begin its song around 3:45 a.m., ten feet from our campsite.

Part 2 - The race

As per usual, I made it down to the start with just enough time to get my number, misplace my water bottle (found after the race), and drop my gear. The 50k allowed a drop off at the 25k point, so I left some fresh socks, gels, and a change of shoes.

I started the race walking. At 2011's Afton Trail Race, I ran early and had to walk a lot late. This time, I was determined to walk early and run more late. Since my Med City drop out I haven't run much anyway (relatively speaking), so I had no big expectations for this race.

I got to walk with Wayne for a while, saw a new running buddy from the Running Room, Kelcey, who took photos and gave me some encouragement. I also did a lot of thinking and enjoying the sights as I ran through Afton State Park.

There were some particularly nice vistas from the "savanna" portion of the trail. The Canadian wildfires had brought down some haze, and the St. Croix Valley had an interesting blueish tinge.

I could write for pages about the conversations, the excellent volunteers and aid stations, my hip popping out and then popping back in between miles 16 and 18, and all the food I ate.

Instead of describing all that, here's some pictures from the race:

Mark and "Crazy Compression" Katie

Jared Gilman in the 25k

A couple seasoned ultra runners and I

Enjoying myself, photo courtesy of: Northwoods Photos

When I finished the race, I thought I had run a negative split. It turned out that I spent too much time goofing around at the 25k aid station/gear check with Leah, future wife of the great Adam Warden.

Trying to look contemplative

Part 3 - The finish

I managed to reach my "A" goal of finishing with no blisters. I also managed to set a 50k PR.

In blogging tradition, allow me to thank the following people for making this PR possible:

The Afton Trail Race, its organizers and volunteers for a well-run, well-marked course with great food and course support.

The Gilman family, especially Jared, for company, a campsite, and the shared experience of poor sleeping conditions.

All the runners I met, new and experienced, who shared part of their running journey with me.

Laura, whose organization of our camping stuff, photos, and loving support makes running not only possible but a shared joy in our lives.

This past weekend I ran the Shoreline Half Marathon in and around Hamlin Beach State Park near Hamlin, New York. That race report will be coming soon.

Happy Running!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Afton 50k - It's Goal Time

After a quick peak back at my 2011 Afton Trail Run race report, I thought I'd get ahead of the game and set some goals for this year's version. 

Wednesday, as I was setting up the Running Room booth for the National Senior Games Health and Wellness Expo, I had the honor of chatting with Grand Ave Running Room employee who will be course marshaling the Afton Trail Run. This experienced runner recently completed a 100 mile race in less than twenty-six hours, so I spent some time picking his brain on his nutrition and racing strategies.

Since my collapse at the Med City Marathon, I haven't done much in the way of a "long run," so nutrition might be the only thing I've got going for me. There have been some nice bike rides, but the thought of running for more than a couple hours in one shot hasn't been overly appealing until now.

For the upcoming Afton 50k, my only real plan is to run slow enough that I can enjoy the food and finish upright. But, in the interest of consistency, I'd better set A, B, and C goals.

A: Finish the race without blisters
B: Finish the race with 1-2 blisters
C: Finish the race with 3+ blisters

Happy Running!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Weekend Reading: Running with the Kenyans

It's been way too long since I've written a book review. Recently, I reorganized my book shelves by category, and found I'd read about fifteen running books I've failed to review.

"Running with the Kenyans" was the most recent. Written by Adharanand Finn, a journalist for The Guardian, "Running with the Kenyans" asks and answers the question, "what makes the Kenyans so good?"

Finn starts this part memoir, part study in Kenyan running culture with his own running journey. His runs, races, and fitness lead him to Iten--home of some of the greatest middle distance and distance runners in the world. Finn bumps shoulders with elite running coaches, athletes, and unknown Kenyan runners who could show up to any number of road races in the United States and win.

Finn helps put together a "team" of runners to run the Lewa Marathon--a difficult, hilly course in Kenya. Finn is chasing a fast time. The Kenyans he trains with race to change their families' lives.

Finn does a nice job of balancing his family's perspective of Kenyan culture in Iten with the various Kenyans he meets. Avid runners will recognize the names of some prominent runners and running coaches, but even non-runners will enjoy the descriptions of Kenya's "running culture."

If you've ever asked or been asked, "why are the Kenyans so good at running?" then you should read this book. I won't give away the answer, but if you're a thoughtful person you've probably already come to your own conclusions. If you really want to know, I'll leave a comment below on my takeaway from why the Kenyans are so good.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Race Report: Wood Duck Days 5k

There's nothing more Minnesotan than a weekend at the "cabin." As a Minnesota transplant, I've learned that a "cabin" simply refers to any structure on or near a body of water in which a person can sleep. A cabin could be anything from an A-frame log cabin, to a 14 bedroom, 8 bathroom structure equipped with an indoor swimming pool and furnished with Armani-leather, jewel-encrusted sofas and recliners.

The cabin in which we resided over the weekend fell somewhere in between the A-frame and luxury residence. The stately structure overlooked Lake Shetek. Laura and I made the roughly 2.5 hour car ride with DJ, the husband of Laura's co-worker, Gayle. It's become an annual Children's Country Day tradition to spend a couple nights there to boat, play games, fish, and relax. We've also managed to squeeze in some running.

Upon arrival to the "cabin," we sat down at the kitchen table to talk about the weekend's plans. When I found out there was going to be a 5k at the Fulda "Wood Duck Days," I suggested that the "boys" go drive over to Fulda the next morning to compete in the 5k and the 1k "fun" run for kids.

Although I was enthusiastic, I knew that not everyone was as excited about getting up early and running as I was. The beer I poured on top of a Casey's General Store Charbroil Deluxe and Hostess cupcake didn't sit well, and after a night of tossing a turning, I wasn't sure I wanted to make the trip to Fulda to run a 5k.

A couple hours after sunrise (which happens around 5 AM this time of year), I was pleasantly surprised to see DJ, Seth (another Country Day employee), and their sons, Alec and Magnus, ready to go to Wood Duck Days to bring home some hardware.

The Wood Duck Day races were exactly the kind I like. Its events included a 5k run, 5k walk, and the grand finale--a children's 1k fun run.

Seth, Alec, and I competed in the 5k, and each of us brought home some sweet hardware. Seth won second in his age group, Alec finished his first 5k (and puked at least three times over the last hundred yards), and Magnus finished the 1k. Besides ribbons, we also brought home a Wood Duck Days 1st place trophy (won by me), shirts, and a $10 Scheels gift card.

The next morning, Seth, DJ, Alec, and I also completed a running-specific core workout.

Besides all the running-related activities, we also caught a couple catfish. Seth and I divided the spoils of two of channel cats, and one was released back into Lake Shetek.

Up next is the Afton 50k on July 4th. I injured my right foot twice at the cabin--once by stubbing/cutting my toe on an angle-iron, and once by using my barefoot to find the stump of a small tree.

Luckily, the cuts aren't serious, and keeping them cleaned and bandaged should have my feet ready for the 50k. Until then, I'll be doing a little more biking, hiking, and core work and a little less running.

Happy Running!


Monday, June 22, 2015

Med City 5k: Race Report

First the good news: I finished third overall, and first in my age group. When I returned to running back in 2009, I would have been happy with my time of 17:34, and thrilled to have finished in the top three.

This year, however, I was less than thrilled. After running a personal best in the road mile, I still had my sights set on a fast time at the Med City 5k.

Unfortunately, I did not run a smart race. My secret goal of breaking the course record and running under 16:15 had me pretty hyped up. Before the start of the race, I talked to several runners, and none of them was planning on running faster than 17 minutes.

The tallest of these supposedly seventeen minute 5k runners, a tall, college-aged looking runner with a white singlet, looked suitable for drafting behind, so I decided I'd run behind him.

When the air horn blew to start the race, I quickly moved behind the tall, white-singlet guy. In a matter of seconds, I misjudged his speed, and clipped his back foot. "Sorry," I said, though I wasn't really sorry. If you're going to run in the front, you'd better be running fast right away.

That clip made me think there was no reason to run behind him, so I took off. The first mile was down hill, and as I ran by the mile marker I looked down at my watch... 4:55, 4:56, 4:57. Uh oh. The white singlet dude soon came up behind me. "Run with me for a while," I said. "You can draft, but not too long."

At mile 1.5, the taste of copper came into the back of my throat--a possible sign of acidosis (read the article about metallic tastes from Outside Online). With half the race left, a chance at 16:15 was over for me.

By the time I reached the final straightaway to the finish, two runners had already passed me; my legs where heavy and my lungs on fire. I walked the last five feet to the finish line, secure in third and angry at myself for running such an unintelligent race. My father-in-law and mother-in-law had come out to watch me. "Nice job," said Jeff. "Third place overall."

2012 Med City 5k with Jeff and Sherry
 I was thankful that Jeff and Sherry had come out to watch me, despite the fact that Sherry wasn't feeling well. I thanked them, and then walked over to my buddy, Nate. I let him know the idiocy of my first mile and asked him to tell me how stupid I'd run.

"Well," he said, laughing. "You know you ran a dumb race. You don't need me to tell you."

I lied down on the grass several times, leaned over the bridge above the Zumbro River, hoping my food wouldn't make an appearance (it did not), and finally managed to feel well enough to stagger to the awards. 

Trying to be gracious
 Later, Nate and I went to a bar and grill in downtown Rochester to share some flatbread pizzas, watch the Royals play the Cardinals, and talk running, careers, and life.

2012 Securian Half Marathon with Nate
Upon arriving back at the in-laws, I coughed up phlegm and my nose began gushing blood. The humidity and poor air quality in downtown Rochester made for some sore lungs. The next Monday I would visit urgent care. The doctor said the infection was mostly high in my lungs, and that I should be able to clear it after a couple days (I did).

They'll be other races, other runs, and better days. I can be happy with a 17:34 and a third place finish.

Happy Running!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Taking a Break: Med City Marathon and 5k

Nate and Nate before Nate dropped. <photocredit>
Hello Readers,

Thanks to all of you who've followed me--it doesn't matter if we've met, if you're a close friend, an accidental reader who's looking for an effective kidney stone treatment or cold remedy. However we've crossed paths--thank you for stopping by.

Thank you to all the Med City runners, friends, family members, and all the people who've run with me since this blog started and before it began. Rochester has been my adopted hometown in Minnesota, and runners from Nebraska, Minnesota, Tanzania, and all over the world have become my extended family.

Running is a coping mechanism, and the 1,100 miles I've put on my running shoes this season ended with a painful 5k, followed by dropping out of the Med City Marathon after 23 miles.

I'm out of commission for a while, but will go into some rest and recovery mode filled with inspiration. Med City was my first DNF. I consider it a badge of honor to know that my body was physically and mentally exhausted. Twenty three miles was a long way to run, and I knew it was time to stop.

Writing is magic. There's no way around that. You'll imagine what I try to describe to you, or I'll try to explain and you'll try to understand, and we'll meet somewhere in the middle.

The stories I've heard while pacing have made my life's journey easier, and the inspiration I've drawn from other runners has been invaluable.

In the meantime, here's a few of my favorite blog topics:

Kidney Stones 


Pace Reports

I'll be working on making this blog more useful, so check back now and then.

You're also welcome to come find me at my new nook of the web for awhile:

Twin Cities Runner Coaching

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Med City Marathon Pacing: It's Goal Time!

Thanks everyone who stopped by the pacer booth to say "hi." Especially thank you to the gentleman who stopped by to say "thank you."

I feel like Rochester is one of my adopted home towns. Always good to see friends and family at the Med City 5k--my in-laws came out, even though Sherry's been a little under-the-weather.

I hope to see you all  at the race. We'll try to run even splits, but it's a little warm. If I were racing today I'd dial my goal back a minute or two, but come join me in the 3:35 group or say, "hi" at the starting line.

And if there's lightning, get off the course. They'll be other marathons, and the race organizers would rather you finish 20 miles (or 7) alive than have this be your last race.

On that happy note; stay safe, have fun, and feel free to correct my grammar.

Happy Running!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Med City 5k: It's Goal Time!

It's goal time!

A: Run fast
B: Run faster than 16:17
C: Run faster than 16:30

Thanks for following. Here's a couple of my favorites from the past few years:

2012 Med City 5k

2012 Med City Marathon 

2013 Med City Marathon

Runner's Prayer

I haven't looked at these for awhile, so if theirs any proofreaders out they're, please feel free to corect and errores.

Happy Running!

Friday, May 22, 2015

TC One Mile: Race Report

It took four years and three attempts, but it finally happened. On a drizzly, breezy, and cool evening, I finally broke five minutes in a road mile.

Unfortunately I forgot that I had yet to pick up my packet, so without a number I couldn't check my sweats at the finish. Instead, I jogged to the start in my sweats, caring the sweet race bag I got at the Fargo Marathon on my back. It worked out fine because that meant I was able to see the course twice and plan my race accordingly.

It turned into an evening of surprise reunions. I met Victoria, Jason, and I jogged Hennepin Ave toward packet pick up. While jogging with them, we passed Jana. She'd run almost the entire time with me at the 3:35 pace group at the Fargo Marathon. The only reason I remember her name is because she had so many fans along the course.

"Just for fun tonight!" she said as she smiled and continued to jog away.

At packet pickup I saw Linda, jogged to the start, dropped my sweats, and found Jon. Then I ran at a brisk pace back to the finish. My warm fuzzies brought me to the start line, and my adrenaline rush of making it just in time was held in check by the first quarter mile incline.

I ran a good race--slightly negative splits, and broke 5:00 in the road mile for the first time ever. A shiny new PR always feels good, so I celebrated it after the race by pretending to be important.

Jon's VIP Media Pass
I always like to thank those who make a new PR possible. For all my running friends; especially Hura, Don, Gerad, Dan, and all the other talented runners I've been blessed to run with. You've joined me for more runs than I can count, and I think of you often when I run.

Thank you. Thanks to all the athletes I admired who gave me the time of day, especially Dena, Carie, and Katie.

For Coach Rathke--who saw some talent in me and helped me grow as a runner. For Coach Einspahr--who gave me enough space to decide what kind of runner I wanted to be. Thanks to my wanna-be athlete friends who've put up with my stream-of-conscious talking, unsolicited advice, and have spent a lot of time with me on buses.

For my running and non-running roomates; Jared and Britney, Tom, Mark, Josh, Kenny, and Matt. I can hear the music playing me off the stage so I'll wrap this up.

Thanks to everyone, friends and family alike. If I haven't mentioned you buy name and you've put up with my running-related odors and messes; thank you. It's been a fun ride.

Tomorrow is the Med City 5k, and I'm going to try to run fast. Oh, and thanks to Laura--the only girl I'm still trying to impress.

Happy Running

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Fargo Marathon: Pace Report

Another weekend and another pacing gig--pacing assignment number three this year at the Fargo Marathon was a fun, quick trip to Fargo, filled with running-related activty.

Our first stop in Fargo was to the expo at the North Dakota State Fargodome. After picking up our packets, spending some time at the pacer booth, and looking around at the expo, we watched Deena Kastor speak. If you ever get a chance, I highly recommend checking out one of her talks. Then, we spent a little more time at the pacer booth before heading out to look for some dinner.

We grabbed dinner at an Italian place called Johnny Carino's. Carino's was packed, but we didn't have to wait too long for a table, and the food was great. We then headed over to the hotel, spent a little time in the hot tub, and crashed before waking up early to leave for the race.

Deena Kastor!
I had heard that parking at the Fargodome would be limited, but we were pleasantly surprised when we easily found a space. Inside the dome we joined the pace team by the start. Deena Kastor, American marathon and world masters marathon record holder also happened to be hanging out by the start. We got a chance to chat with her for a little bit, and she was extremely friendly. Besides answering our questions, she also asked us about our running. I still really can't believe I was answering questions from and Olympian bronze-medalist about how my running was going.

The race started inside the dome, so I was a little nervous about the GPS situation. I really appreciate having my pace on my wrist when pacing. I decided to test out my Garmin by starting it inside the dome and then jogging about a quarter of a mile outside the dome. Fortunately the GPS picked up a signal after about a minute outside the dome, so I figured it'd be good to go for pacing (it was).

The fearless pace team.
Back inside I introduced myself to about a dozen runners planning to run with the 3:35 pace group. It was a great group of runners, and about five of them stayed with me from the start until about half a mile from the finish. Then, all but one of them ran ahead (the last young man also ran ahead of me just before we entered the dome at the finish). There were several inspiring moments along the course, including when the young man shared that he was running the race for his mother who'd been diagnosed with cancer. Several other runners also shared how they' been affected by cancer.

Entering the Fargodome
Listening to people's stories, jokes, and trying to honor requests of, "tell a story," or, "what's the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?" made the race go by quickly. The course was nice and flat and the weather was cool.

There were lots of bands along the course--someone said there were supposed to be 52 bands and DJs, meaning there was something loud going on at least every half mile. I felt great the whole time besides having to pee for the last twenty miles or so. I've never appreciated the post-race bathrooms so much. I kept a pretty consistent pace, and finished the race at 1:34:29.

Laura had run the half marathon, so we grabbed some expo food, showered, and then got lunch in downtown Fargo at JL Beers. On our way home we checked out Buffalo River State Park, stretching out our legs with a nice three mile hike.

Next weekend I'll be pacing the the Run and Ride Half Marathon at Valley Fair, followed by the Med City Marathon the weekend after that. Between those two I'll be racing the TC One Mile and the Med City 5k.

Post-race cool down hike at Buffalo River State Park

Tonight at the TC One Mile, and I only have one goal: run under 5 minutes.

Happy Running!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon: Pace Report

Pre-race game face
My second pacing gig of 2015 is in the books. For the second time in a few years, I jogged around Lake Minnetonka carrying a pacer sign, attempting to run even splits en route to a 1:35 finishing time.

 The weather was pretty nice, though a little humid for a half marathon. Laura and I had been camping for the previous couple days and had really been enjoying the warm temperatures and the sun. Fortunately for the runners, the sky was overcast on Sunday morning, keeping temperatures cool enough to be pretty comfortable.

At Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon I had the privilege of having a co-pacer, Mike. It's always nice having someone to share the pacing duties. Only having to carry the sign half the time leads to a less sore neck, and there's also someone checking on the pace meaning I don't have to look at my watch quite as often.

I also really like pacing the 1:35 group. Checking my pace on a pace band is fine, but it adds one more thing to keep track of, and when I pace the 1:35 group I can easily add 7:15 for each mile, eliminating the need for a pace band.

Finishing on time
The Lake Minnetonka course is nice with a lot of sections being along water. It's got enough rolling hills to keep things interesting, but there are no really steep or long hills. The only downside to running next to so much water is that if it's windy, it can really hit you. Sunday wasn't too windy, but even a moderate amount of wind can be bothersome when trying to control a cardboard pacing sign.

Mike and I had a nice time chatting and running pretty consistently at our assigned pace. We came through the finish right on time at 1:34:50. Runners were very friendly after the race, and I had several thank me for pacing. One guy even stopped his car in the parking lot to thank me.

It'll be a busy May for pacing the next few weeks. This weekend I'll be pacing the Fargo Marathon for the first time. I'm looking forward to doing a new race and notching marathon number 13. Then it's on to the inaugural Valley Fair Half Marathon, followed by the Med City Marathon.

Happy Running!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Earth Day 1/2 Marathon: Pace Report

Another pacing gig is in the books! I won't say too much about this one. If you're interested in the race, the great event, and the course, check out my other Earth Day reports here: 2012 and 2014. Laura and I really enjoy this event, and last Friday afternoon we drove up to St. Cloud to pick up our race packets, grab some dinner, and watch Sister Act in our hotel the night before the race. Watching Whoopi Goldberg turn a struggling nun choir into a class act ready worthy of performing for the pope really got me pumped for pacing.

On race morning we munched on some granola bars and bananas before heading to St. Cloud State's field house to meet up with the pacers and get ready for the race. After a couple of years of not-so-great weather, this year was perfect. It was sunny, cool but not too cold, and only a slight breeze.

Ready to race
I had a nice group of runners in my 1:40 group at the start of the race, but for some reason we didn't seem to stay together much as runners dropped off the pace. We caught up to some other runners as we neared the finish, and as often happens people let out words or sounds of disappointment as they watched their goal slipping out of reach.

Pace team, mostly unaware the photo had already been taken
During this race I also got to sample a new energy gel. I was handed a salted watermelon flavored gel, then asked my pace group if anyone wanted to trade. "Hell no!" replied a runner who was apparently more happy with whatever flavor he'd received. It wasn't quite as bad as I thought, but I'm definitely not going out to buy a box.

I finished the race in 1:39:55--a nice way to start off the pacing season. Coming up I'll be pacing the 1:35 group at the Lake Minnetonka 1/2 Marathon, the 3:35 group at the Fargo Marathon, and the 3:35 group for the Med City marathon. Pacing season is underway!

Happy Running!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Favorite Running Movies: Biopics

Looking to watch some running movies? Here are my favorite biopics:

5. Without Limits

There are going to be two Steve Prefontaine biopics in this list, and if you were on a track or cross country team, you've likely seen both of them. I enjoy both the Prefontaine biopics. Neither were a big commercial success. "Without Limits" explores Steve Prefontaine's brief running career, highlighted by the 1972 Olympic 5k. Though this film may have better production value than "Prefontaine," the style of the film and parts of Prefontaine's life that they highlight (or completely fictionalized) doesn't entertain me as much as "Prefontaine."

4. Chariots of Fire

This is one of the most well-known running movies out there. "Chariots of Fire" follows British sprinters as they train for and then compete in the Olympics. I enjoy this movie for the most part, but the storyline seems to drag at certain points. The stories of the runners, however, are compelling, and the soundtrack is killer.

3. Running Brave

 Billy Mills is the only American thus far to win a gold medal the Olympic 10k, finishing first at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. This film follows Billy's amazing career, from humble origins to the University of Kansas to the Marines, and finally the Olympics. Mills' story is compelling and makes for good drama. The movie also focuses on Billy's love interest, and though it can sometimes be over-dramatic, "Running Brave" is worth a watch.

2. Prefontaine

This life story of Steve Prefontaine is done as a faux documentary. People from Pre's life are "interviewed" as they narrate the events surrounding Pre's life and death. I prefer "Prefontaine" to "Without Limits," but others will definitely disagree with me.

1. McFarland, U.S.A.

Of all the movies, this one is the most well-produced and best acted. I'm a sucker for underdog stories, and the story of the boys of McFarland beating the odds to become an excellent cross country team is a good one. Kevin Costner does a nice job playing a cross country coach and father in need of redemption. Though they took some liberties with the story, this was still an excellent film.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Fred Kurz 10 Mile: Race Report

Saturday was the perfect day for a race. It was sunny, cool, and just a little bit breezy. The temperature rose quickly, jumping from about 36 at 7 AM to 40 by 8:30 AM, to over 50 b y the time the race was over at 10:30 AM.

The Fred Kurz 10 Mile is a unique race, handicapping the start times of each runner with the goal of having everyone finish at the same time. Runners submit two recent race times, and are then given start times based on their estimated finishes. The earliest runners began at 8:30 AM, and the goal was to have everyone finish at 10:30 AM. My start time was 9:30 AM, which was perfect as my "A" goal was to run under 60 minutes.

I had one other runner starting with me, and she was also aiming for a sub-1 hour finish time. The race started at Wayzata Central Middle School, went on a sidewalk for about half a mile, then turned on the Luce Line Trail, a crushed limestone rails-to-trail path. The young lady I was running with started out at a good clip, running ahead of me for about the first mile. Deciding not to keep up with her, I ran my own pace, and at about a mile I ran past her.

Around two miles in I began passing runners who had earlier start times. I knew there were a few runners who had a later start time than me, so my goal was to not be passed. At three miles I was on pace for a sub-60 minute time, averaging about 5:55 a mile at that point.

At the turnaround, the wind was now at our backs, and I knew if I could keep the pace I would break 59 minutes. I was now passing a lot of runners, and had yet to be passed. Passing a runner I recognized, I said, "Way to go, Kurt!" He told me I was only the second runner who'd passed him.

With two miles to go, I thought I might have an outside chance of setting a new 10 mile PR, so I really tried to push it. Coming into the last mile, I knew my "A" goal was in the bag, but if I could run a really fast last mile, a PR wasn't out of the question.

I turned off of the trail and onto the sidewalk. Still passing runners, a minute later the finish line was in sight. Seeing the clock, it looked like it wouldn't be a PR. I'd run about as fast as I could, so dropping 15 seconds or more off the last two miles just wasn't going to happen. I came across the line at 58:32, making my "A" goal and missing a PR by 13 seconds--just over 1 second per mile.

Though it wasn't a PR, it was my best race of the season so far and the first time I've hit an "A" goal in a long time. I ended up finishing third overall and winning the 30-39 age group. My prize was a sweet MDRA hat. I'm feeling good about this early season, coming so close to a PR as I haven't set a PR since 2013. I hope this will be a good jump start to the season and lead to some PRs this year.

Happy Running!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Fred Kurz 10 Mile: It's Goal Time

I'm a little late getting this one going--the Fred Kurz 10 Mile starts in a few hours. I'll have to move quickly here with my goals.

I'm hoping to run a good race, but at the same time I'm in the midst of a tough week of training and have not cut back at all for this race. I've already run over 50 miles since Monday morning, so we'll see how well I can run this one without fresh legs. On to the goals:

A: Break 60:00
B: Break 60:30
C: Break 61:00

In about three hours, I'll find out what happens. It's been a long time since I've accomplished an "A" goal, so I'm hoping today's the day.

Happy Running!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Favorite Running Movies: A Series

A couple weeks ago, Laura and I went out to a $5 Tuesday movie in Rosemount. We also joined some reward program, which meant free popcorn for both of us! Woot, woot!

We watched "McFarland, USA," the story of a cross country team of underdogs and their coach (played by Kevin Costner) in central California. Watching the movie made me think of all the other running movies I enjoy, and it also got me to check out and watch a couple of running movies from the library. I thought writing a series of blog posts based on categories of running films would be a good way to share some of these entertaining films.

That's right; I said categories of running movies. Running movies is not a category in and of itself, so I'll break things down into three categories: biopic, comedy/drama, and documentary. Stay tuned for my picks on the top movie in each category.

Happy Running!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

MDRA 7 Mile: Race Report

My second race of the year is in the books, and it was definitely an interesting one. Though it was chilly, the wind in Hopkins wasn't a factor as the slight breeze and sunny skies made conditions for the MDRA 7 Mile quite pleasant.

The race started off well, and unlike the Lake Johanna 4 Mile when I went out a little fast, this time I started out a little farther back and let the lead runners go. After about half a mile I was running by myself. I could see the two leaders, both wearing neon running gear, quite a bit ahead of me.

When the course turned toward the first mile, I could no longer see the two neon runners. They popped in and out of view for about half a mile, but by the second mile they were completely out of sight, and I was running alone in third place.

At the third mile marker I was running a little slower than I needed to to break my "A" goal time of 40:08, but a PR was well within reach, and picking up the pace a little to hit the "A" goal was not out of the question, but then things got away from me. And by got away from me, I mean I took a little half mile detour through the streets of Hopkins.

Here's my Garmin-created map of the 7 Mile. Notice the little loop in the upper left:

Here's the loop up close:

At the three mile mark, I was supposed to turn right, but unfortunately I continued going straight. Though the course had nice blue arrows spray painted on the roads and sidewalks, I must have been looking at my watch and failed to notice the little blue arrow that directed me to turn right. I realized I'd probably made a mistake when I went past Birchwood Lane and there were no little blue arrows. Had I turned around at that point, it wouldn't have been so bad, but instead I kept going.

Fortunately the little detour brought me back to the course where I joined a group or runners to go past the 3 mile marker for the second time, this time with an extra half a mile on my watch.

I didn't get too upset--I decided I'd check my split at 7 miles and give myself 75% credit for that 7 mile time, and just try to forget about my official finishing time--the MDRA 7 Mile is just a free fun run anyway, so who really cares about my "official" time?

Anyhow, this race was hilly with a capital "H." Right after mile 4 (4.5 miles for me) there's a hill that's roughly three quarters of mile mile long with a grade of about 2%. Though it took some pop out of my legs, the rest of the race had more downhill then up.

I was passing a lot of runners at this point--they'd had a half mile advantage on me, but I was making up some ground. My unofficial 7 mile split was 40:28 (I took the split at 7.04)--slower than my 40:08 goal but faster than my PR. I eased up a little then, but not much. I still wanted to finish strong.

Even after slowing down a little for the last half mile, I finished the race at 43:34--a 6:13 pace if you discard the extra half mile and a 5:49 pace if you factor in the extra half mile.

As I was walking back from the start, another runner approached me and said, "Hey, are you the guy who got lost?"

"Yes," I said.

"Yeah, I wanted to yell to you, but you were too far ahead of me. I saw you go left and I started to go left, but then saw the blue arrow and made a hard right across someone's lawn." I guess I was glad he didn't get thrown off by me too. "I was doing a tempo run," he continued, "and I didn't know quite how fast you were going. I was going to try and stay with you, but I got stuck there in no man's land."

"Oh well," I said. "I guess I just got a little extra workout."

"Yeah," he said. "Good thing it's just a fun run."

"Yep. No trophies on the line today."

After a short cool down, I enjoyed a nice post-race cookie and chatted with Peter, a friend whom Laura and I are always seeing at the YMCA. He was sympathetic to my poor directional skills, and made me feel better when he said, "There were a couple of places when I thought to myself, 'if I weren't running with other people, I wouldn't know which way to turn.'"

Though things didn't go quite as planned, I'm still pretty happy with the race result. I ran hard and I'm feeling like I'm in pretty good shape. Now I'll just have to wait until my next race to see if I can run a fast time without getting lost.

Happy Running!

Friday, March 27, 2015

MDRA 7 Mile: It's Goal Time

Saturday will be the third time I've run the Minnesota Distance Running Association 7 Mile. The last time I ran it was in 2012 when I ran 41:05. In 2011 I ran it in 40:44, but it the course was short, registering only 6.8 miles on my Garmin, so I'm going to have to count the 2012 race as my PR for good conscience.

This will be my second race of the season, and I'm hoping to show an improvement from the MDRA 4 mile and run a somewhat better time. Not better as in faster than my four mile time--that would mean running at a pace of just over three minutes per mile, which I believe is most likely physiologically impossible. Instead, I want to be able to run a better equivalent time.

Running a better equivalent time, as calculated by the McMillan Running Calculator. McMillan suggests that I should be able to run a 40:08 based on my recent 4 mile time. This may be a little overly ambitious as the MDRA 7 Mile is known as a tough course, and while there were some hills at the Lake Johanna 4 Mile, I remember the hills at the MDRA 7 Mile being quite a bit tougher.

Still, I'm going to give it a shot. Running under 40:08 will be a stretch--I'll need to average under 5:44 per mile to do it, but I don't think it's totally out of the question. So, on with the A, B, and C goals.

A: Break 40:08
B. Set a PR
C. Break 41:30

Saturday's supposed to be pretty chilly, so running in the cold may hamper my efforts at a PR, but I'll give it a shot. Although I technically set a PR at the MDRA 4 Mile (it was my only 4 mile race), I haven't really set a PR in over a year.

Happy Running!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lake Johanna 4 Mile: Race Report

My first race of the year is in the books. Saturday, March 14 was ideal conditions for an early season race. Above average temperatures, but still cool, a slight breeze, and a cloudless deep blue sky made for an enjoyable run, whether the actual race went well or not.

Warming up before the race
Laura was kind enough to accompany me to the race after doing her own run and a class at the YMCA earlier in the day. The 11 AM start was late enough that she got to do what she wanted before the race and I had plenty of time to get ready.

Upon arriving, I got my race number and did a two mile warmup. Running in a long sleeve for 15 minutes was about perfect to get ready to race. With the small race field and informal setting, I was able to finish my warmup just a couple minutes before the start and still line up toward the front. I tossed my long sleeve to Laura, and after a couple of pre-race instructions, we were off.

There was a lead pack of about seven runners right away, but after about 200m I could tell we were going a little fast. A quick glance at my Garmin let me know that I was running at a sub-5 minute mile pace. I backed off and let the leaders go, passing a couple of them within the first mile.

I came through the first mile in 5:28, right on pace for my goal of under 22 minutes. I was in fifth place at this point--right where I'd stay for the rest of the race.

The course was somewhat hilly, but nothing terribly steep up or down. I came through the second mile with another 5:28, still on pace for s sub-22 minute finish. My legs were starting to feel a little fatigued at this point, but I still felt strong enough to hold that pace. Mile three was a 5:35, which meant I needed to run under 5:30 to break the 22 minute barrier.

Finishing the last mile
 The last mile started with a decent hill, but it flattened out and went downhill, making me think I could pull off the sub-22. Coming off the last turn, one of the volunteers said, "downhill from here!" and it pretty much was. On the final straightaway I could start to see the clock as it ticked up toward 22 minutes. I pushed it as hard as I could, going through the finish line with the clock at 21:58.

Unfortunately, when I looked down at my Garmin, it read 22:05. Apparently the clock was not quite right. Although my official time was 21:58, I'll know that I didn't actually run that fast.

Under 22 minutes?
 Overall I was pretty happy with the race, barely missing my "A" goal and coming in solidly under my "B" goal. I did feel like I finished with a little gas left in the tank, and that I could have pushed it harder that last mile. It was, however, the first race of the season, so I'm still getting the rust out. This weekend I'll be running the MDRA 7 Mile, and I should have a better idea of how to pace that one.

The photographer and I
Happy Running!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Goal Time: Lake Johanna 4 Mile

It's time to get the rust out and race for the first time since the Chicago Marathon. This year, I'm trying out the Lake Johanna Four Mile. I've never done this race before, nor have I raced a 4 mile--definitely a nonstandard distance.

I'm looking forward to this race quite a bit. It should feel like a 5k, but it's just long enough to make choosing a pace a challenge. Running at 5k pace would definitely be too fast, but a 10k pace would be too slow. Time to find a brand new gear.

I'm excited to see what sort of time I can pull off. My running's been going very well, and I've had a couple great workouts including an 800m repeat workout in which I was able to run quite a bit faster than I thought I would. My mileage this winter has also has been the highest I've run since college--I've averaged about 52 miles per week since Christmas.

So, though I'm not really sure what I'll be able to do, I'll go ahead and set my traditional A, B, and C goals.

A. Finish the race in under 22 minutes. This would be at a 5:30 pace or faster. A steep goal, but based on my 800m repeats the other day, I don't think it's out of the question.

B. Finish under 22:30.

C. Finish under 23 minutes.

I'm hoping for a good race today. The last thing I have to do is choose the shoes. I'm either going to run in my Saucony Virrata 2, or the Merrel Bare Access Ultra. The Merrel is a little lighter and I like the firmer feel, but the Virrata is a little more comfortable. It might come down to a race time decision.

Happy Running!

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Language of Running

I very much appreciate that many of my readers are non-runners. If you are a non-runner or a very new runner, and you've had the unfortunate experience of being around a couple of runners, or, even worse, at a gathering of runners, you've probably been overrun with runner jargon. Acronyms, obscure workout references, famous runners--you can politely nod, and if you're assertive you can ask questions, but after awhile you just zone out.

It can be especially rough for the non-running spouses of runners. While out to a meal, as the talk drifts toward the glycemic index of chicken wings and the relative benefits of carbo-loading, you might casually check your phone, eventually slipping it under your table to start a game of Candy Crush to pass the time.

For those that don't want to play their own personal sound track in their heads, I've put together a little cheat sheet. Feel free to print a copy of this cheat sheet to take with you to your next runner-related gathering.

PR or PB: Personal record or personal best time. When a runner says they ran a PB or PR'ed, she or her means they ran faster for a given distance than they've ran before.

BQ: Boston qualifying. It means a runner has run fast enough in a marathon to be get into the Boston Marathon. This is a goal of many marathon runners, and you'll often hear, "I'm going to try to BQ at my next marathon," or, "She BQ'ed at the Twin Cities Marathon."

DNF and DNS: Did not finish or did not start. A runner may have been unable to start or finish a race, usually because of an injury.

MP, GMP, and HMP: Marathon pace, goal marathon pace, and half marathon pace.

Tempo Run: A workout in which a runner runs "comfortably hard" for between 20 minutes and an hour, somewhere around 10k or half marathon pace.

Fartlek: A Swedish word meaning "speed play." A workout in which runners alternate a slower paced running with moderate and faster paced running.

Taper: A period of time before a race when runners cut back on their mileage in order to increase their chances of running a fast time in a race. Some runners feel anxiety or generally uneasiness due to the decrease in mileage, known as "taper madness."

Carbo-loading: Usually done before a longer race, runners "load up" on carbohydrates to improve the stores of glycogen in the liver and muscles for improved endurance.

Unfortunately I can't do much to make you interested in running. Although I enjoy watching races, the idea of spending time watching runners traverse an oval track for two minutes seems dull, much less watching gazelle-like runners swiftly cover 26.2 miles in a little over two hours. It can be especially hard to become a fan of running when most of the best distance runners in the world come from East Africa, making it difficult to keep straight the unfamiliar names of Keino, Farah, Gebrselassie, Gebremeskel, Bikila, and Mutai. If you want to find out more about professional runners, check out this link: 20 Runners You Should Be Following on Social Media.

And while being a fan of running can be difficult, professional runners are some of the most dedicated, inspiring athletes around. Rural Kenyans dedicate their lives to the uncertain prospect of being noticed by a manager or elite coach. And even if they do make it out of the country and into some elite races with chances at big prize money, there's no guarantee of winning any of that prize money. For even an elite Kenyan runner, the difference between changing an entire family's life, or even an entire village's life, can be matter of seconds. Unfortunately for Kenyans, the chances of becoming sponsored by and athletic brand are much less than the chances of even an inferior American athlete.

Although I very much enjoy following professional running, many, if not the majority of runners don't follow the sport professionally. They still, however, might have solid knowledge of training methods, racing strategies, and the many benefits of running. If you're skeptical about running and think it's pointless, boring, or will ruin your knees (not true), read this link: Why Run?

So the next time you're out with your running friends and are quietly zoning out of the conversation, feel free to use the cheat sheet above. Or, install more games on your smart phone and discreetly play them as those around you descend into the abyss of running conversations.