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June 28, 2006

Here he goes again

Another 26 miles on tap for this weekend. Actually itís going to be just over 27 miles this time around. I will be participating in the first Duluth Dualathon this coming Saturday. The event consists of a 3.1 mile run, 20.6 mile bike ride and ends with a 3.4 mile run.

The event combines two of my favorite activities. You already know I like to run and now I get to add biking into the mix. When I saw a flyer for this event, I just couldnít pass it up.

I rode my bike over the course this last Saturday. I had a pretty good idea that the first part would be up hill. It is just as I expected and a bit more. Basically the course is uphill for about 4 miles and than levels a bit. The next 8 miles are rolling hills and very scenic. The last 8 miles is than pretty much down hill. Overall it was a great ride.

When I finished the ride I experienced what it was like to try and run following a long bike ride. The first half mile was interesting to say the least. I would describe it more as a shuffle than a run. Slowly but surely the run did develop into a style and pace that was familiar to me.

Not ever have done this type of event before I have no idea on how I will be in relation to others in the field. I could very well end up being the last participant to finish this thing. It all depends on if there are others who do these events more for the experience rather than to compete. Whatever the case may be I do know I will come away with a personal record in this event.

Race report will follow.

June 23, 2006

Enough Already

Once again the media has decided to try and undermine our efforts against terrorism. Their hatred towards President Bush has made the chief editors irrational. I believe they should be arrested and jailed for treason.

The latest if you havenít heard is the reviewing of financial transactions of suspected terrorist related parties. The premise being if you find the source of the funds you can than cut it off. Sounds to me like a good plan.

This recent attempt to create a scandal will no doubt take the same path as the alleged phone record scandal. We will see that the majority of Americans will not have a problem with this. Those that hate George Bush will. By next week it will be forgotten and the media will be looking for something new to throw against the wall.

At some point of time you would think after beating their heads against so many walls they would stop. I am afraid itís going to continue for another couple of my years though. Some just like to beat themselves up.

June 21, 2006

Has a nice ring to it.

This chapter in my life is going to be wonderful. The chapter I am talking about is being a grandpa. It has already brought me more joy than I could have ever imagined.

My grandson who is now over 16 months old is as rambunctious as any boy could be. Sean has given me all kinds of opportunities to smile. I enjoy trying to teach him things such as the animals and how to spit. Sean loves to climb and inspect everything around him. I canít help but look forward to the days when he and I can explore the wilderness.

Even though my granddaughter is just over a week old, she has also given me the opportunity to smile. First of all she is as cute as cute can be. Mira is quite content with her world at the moment. I have enjoyed holding her and just observing her as she stretches and looks all around. I anticipate she and I will spend a lot of time together.

Life is good.

June 18, 2006

In the books

The fourth running of Grandmas Marathon is now in the history books. It wasnít my best performance, time wise nor was it my worst. I describe it as maybe my toughest and my easiest of all four. Even though that might confuse you Iíll try to explain this marathon as best I can remember.

To get it all started I need to actually go back to last year. My fourth running was to have been back than. I tried to make up for missing a week of training in just a few days and that I believe was the most likely cause of a stress fracture. That stress fracture took me out of being ready to run last year.

In order to avoid a repeat of last year I started training in January for a half marathon in early February. The thought was that training would provide me a good base for my marathon training which would start in the middle of February. I believe that training did exactly what I had hoped for.

Running a marathon is actually not that difficult. The difficult part is training for 18 weeks prior to the day of the event. The time commitment involved is tremendously burdensome. There are a number of mental and physical challenges that must be overcome in those 18 weeks. Itís kind of like preparing that Thanksgiving feast. After the hours of preparation itís done in a manner of minutes.

For this marathon I felt I trained well and smart. I pushed when I thought I needed to and backed off when I felt it was necessary. I chose a better and much more comparable terrain type location for my training runs. I paid attention to the pains and treated them appropriately. Primarily due to my training I went into this marathon with more confidence than I had for the first three.

That confidence I think allowed me for the first time to be reasonably rested. I slept well the two days prior because I was more relaxed. I was feeling good.

I awoke at 4:30 am on Saturday with no trouble at all. Getting ready was quite easy due to the fact that I had laid everything out the night before. All the items were pretty much in the order of how they were to be used or put on. First the band aids to wrap the toes, the blister powder, the socks, the unmentionable, the undershirt and so on. Once dressed, I went down the hall to the breakfast buffet that the hotel has for the runners. I had my bagel with peanut butter, a banana and a glass of milk. After completing breakfast I strolled back to the room and rested until it was time to catch the bus.

Just a bit after 5:30 I was at the bus location waiting for the loading to begin. This bus ride was just a bit different than the others. On my bus was one of the three runners who had run every one of the Grandmaís Marathons, 29 prior to this one. A reporter was on the bus just to get some reports from people on what there were feeling prior to running a marathon. She asked the gentleman in front of me how many Grandmaís marathons has he run? His response was ďAll of themĒ. It was quite an interesting story. Sure made the bus ride a lot more fun.

The bus got us to the start a little more than an hour prior to the gun time. In the past I waited and waited for this time to pass with a lot of anxiety. This time that anxiety wasnít there. Much more relaxed and the hour didnít seem to be that long.

There I was standing amongst a huge mass of humanity, about 7,200 other runners. Than just as all the other years two jet fighter pass overhead and chills go up my spine. The national anthem is than sung. My eyes got a little watery just as they did the very first time I was standing in the starting chute years before. The moment of running another marathon is about to begin.
The masses start to move ever so slowly down the starting chute. Faster and faster we go. A slow jog starts and than just like rush hour traffic we stop, start, stop and than finally slowly move along again. It took about 4 minutes to get to the starting line from where I started in the starting chute. I was on my way.

From the start of the race I was quite relaxed. Usually it takes me a mile or two to into a comfortable rhythm but not this day. I was feeling very good.

It didnít take long to feel that the weather for the day wasnít going to beneficial to running 26.2 miles at a better than expected pace. It was very warm and humid from the start. It was foggy and hazy at the start and stayed that way for about the first 4 miles. Than to make things just a bit worse the fog and haze gave way to the sun. Without a breeze off the lake, there was no doubt this run was going to be the warmest I have ever done.

Despite the warm weather through the first half I was pretty close to the pace that I ran when I finished at 4:37. However I could feel that physically I was more tired than I expected to be at the point. Muscle wise my legs felt very good but it felt as if my stamina was weakening. I knew the heat was beginning to take some of my strength away. It was at that point I chose to back off a bit and see if I could recover a bit. Even through eighteen my pace wasnít to far off.

Although my pace was still strong at eighteen miles I chose that today wasnít going to be the day I pushed myself to get a personal record. This was going to be the day I chose to enjoy a run and the entire atmosphere around me. I began to feel a calming sensation throughout my body and just pretty much went with the flow from that point.

As I continued on I thought about all the support that I have had up to and during this marathon. I am quite a lucky and blessed individual. Even though my family may think I am certifiably insane for wanting do these things, they support me wholeheartedly. Along with my family I have found friends through the old Grandmas Marathon web site forum to keep the fire burning. Than there is another group that is quite special to me, they are a group that I also found in a web chat room, that group is titled RCC. We are a bunch of regular folks who belong to Weight Watchers. In addition to supporting our efforts in the weight battle, we also support participantsí efforts to run, bike, swim, walk or whatever exercise one chooses. There is no way I could have run without all of the support everyone has given me.

Finally, I reached mile 24 and I knew without any doubt that this was going to be a successful marathon for me. I knew I was going to finish. The only question was could I do it in under 5:00. I had about 27 minutes to go and truth be told I was totally spent at this point. But there is something that happens when I get to 24, not sure if it happens to others, itís like things go into overdrive. There is no more thought process going on. The body just goes into automatic mode. I was still moving forward. When I passed the 25 mile balloon I checked my time and I had 14 minutes to go, I than knew than under 5:00 was going to be accomplished along with finishing my fourth running.

I finished at 4:57:24. Twenty minutes slower than my PR and 23 minutes faster than my slowest finish. However this running goes down as my best because it was my toughest. Even though it was my toughest I came away feeling very good physically which to me means yes I was ready for this and that made it easy to finish just as I planned.

One last note. Special thanks again to my RCC friends, to Lani for helping me at mile 17, to Kaitlyn and Abe at mile 20, to my family at the finish, to my family who I knew was with me in spirit and to the good lord for giving me the ability and courage to do something crazy.

June 15, 2006

Oh so close

Less than 48 hours before the gun sounds starting the 30th running of Grandmaís Marathon. Approximately 9000 runners will be heading down the North Shore of Lake Superior. The course is quite scenic even after you have seen it many times before.

Last night I began my preparation. Earlier in the day I made a list of the things that I needed. I carefully laid everything out onto the bed. Checked the items off of the list as I went. Pretty much got it done, I just need to find my headband and Iíll be all set as far as my running gear.

Of course I am cautious optimistic about how I will do. There is the normal amount of anxiety however I also feel quite confident. My goal is to finish. As far as when I finish, I have hopes that I will finish around 4:30 and no longer than 5:00. Should I take longer than 5:00 I will not be disappointed because for me this is not a race, itís an adventure.

My next post will be my race report.

June 14, 2006

It's A Roller Coaster

During the running of a marathon the emotions are on a roller coaster. A lot like life itself. There are highs and lows but for the most part things are on an even keel.

The excitement begins at what is called the Expo. This is where you pick up your race bib (number). There are a number of booths that are selling stuff or giving out information on stuff. You mingle about with other runners all around. The excitement in the air is very noticeable. This is like climbing the first hill of the roller coaster.

The next morning generally after a restless night you get to the starting area. Here you hang around and try to get loose. I generally sit for awhile when I get there. After resting for 15 minutes or so Iíll get up to walk a bit and stretch. Visit with a few people I know. Generally about 10 minutes to start time, Iíll get into position in the starting chute. At this time I am getting close to the top of the first hill on the roller coaster.

The gun sounds and for the first few minutes I kind of shuffle along in the mass prior to getting into a steady run. Itís now that the anxiety part kicks in. Oh my, what have I got myself into now? It feels like I am heading down that first drop. I plug along telling myself all is going to be just fine. Remember breath with each stride and relax as you go. After a bit I get into a nice groove and things begin to calm done. I have reached the level part of my coaster ride.

Things stay pretty level for about the next 6 to 10 miles. Once you get through the first half of the run the spectators start to appear here and there along the run. The excitement of what I am doing starts to build again. Hey these people are cheering for me. I am heading up the next rise of the roller coaster.

The farther along the course the more and more spectators giving more support than I had ever imagined. People who have no clue as to who you are are cheering loudly for you. Itís quite an emotional rush. I am getting higher and higher up the emotional coaster.

Than the legs send this message to the head ďhow much farther do we have to goĒ we are tired. Here I go down the hill. Itís at this point when doubts begin to weigh on me. I do the best I can to divert my attention to a happy place. I keep going as best I can all the while telling myself to stay focused and keep putting one foot in front of the other. I am going down the big hill now.

Okay at this point I have pretty much bottomed out. My legs are tired and I am having trouble convincing myself that I wasnít an idiot for wanting to do this. Than I see the mile marker for mile 23. Hey I only have a 5k left. I can do that. Once again I up going up the roller coaster ride.

There it is the finish line. I have reached the top of the hill. However at this point there is no more down hills. I did it. An emotional rush that can overwhelm a guy to tears.

June 13, 2006

People watching

Four days to the fourth running of Grandmaís Marathon. Saturday canít come soon enough. Clearly it is on my mind. Over the next few days Iíll try to describe what I have experienced in my three prior runnings of Grandmaís Marathon.

The sights and sounds of running this marathon are incredible. At the starting area the group of runners heads up a slight incline. The incline gives a person a view of a sea of runners that stretches for what seems like a mile. The buzz from the participants is like that of a swarm of mosquitoes. You see runners that appear to be fine tuned athletes to runners much like me, a bit out of shape and trying to stay upright to the finish line. All of the sights and sounds of the runners helps pull me along the way.

There is quite a diversity of runners and running styles. You have the floppers, the swingers, the smooth as silk and all in between. The floppers are the people whose feet must weigh 10 pounds or more. Sounds like a heard of Clydesdale coming by. The swingers are those whose arms and head are going to and fro. A smooth and silk runner is one who silently passes you and looks like the whole thing is effortless. Along with the styles than you have the ages that range from teens to 80 or better. I sure hope I look as good as those 80 year olds when I reach 70. I have yet to see a runner with a Mohawk but I am sure that will be coming soon.

Thereís even more interesting stuff to tell you about.

June 12, 2006

At the foothills

In 5 days I will embark on my 4th marathon trek. I donít care if it is a clichť, they donít get any easier. I am not quite as nervous as I was for my first but my mind will be occupied with the task coming up.

I am often asked why I do it. To be honest I ask myself that several times during training. I canít even give myself an answer really. The only answer I come up with is I lack of discipline. I like to run and signing up for a marathon forces me to run.

So why do I like to run? I can tell you itís not just for the health benefits. I guess the reason why is that I often find running to be a peaceful time. Itís an opportunity to escape reality for a small time period and be by myself. I get the opportunity to realize how beautiful nature is, to see the diversity that life brings us and a chance to visit with the people I loved that are no longer on earth. Thatís pretty much why I run.

I am looking forward to this event very much. I have been for well over a year. I was quite disappointed that I wasnít able to run last year. My primary goal is to finish the marathon. It would be nice to complete the entire marathon in 4:30 minutes however if I go over 5 hours so be it. I will get it done.

June 07, 2006

Morning Person-NOT

I have begun another phase of my training. One in which I am not too fond of. I need to acclimate myself to getting up early in a.m. and than be active.

The plan is to be to the start line at least an hour prior to the start of the race. A participant gets to the starting line by riding a bus for about 45 minutes. You want to be there at least an hour ahead of the start time. I figure 45 minutes to get dressed and eat a light breakfast. Taking everything into consideration I will need 2 Ĺ hours of pre-race time. So adding in the walk to the bus stop (including wait time), I will be setting the alarm for about 4:45 a.m.. That hopefully will allow me to comfortably and calmly get to the start line by 7:30 a.m..

That being the case I need to get into a routine of waking early. Alarm is set at 5:20 and will stay at that way until the day before the race. To be active and not go from the bed to the couch I plan to run every other day 3 to 5 miles and the other days, I will go to work early.

I am not a morning person by any means. My day generally starts out by cursing the alarm clock. Unless of course hunting and fishing is the agenda for the day. Be sure not to get in my way, my mood is not the best.

Yes the word crazy can be used to define why I would run a marathon.

June 03, 2006

Always Mine

Spending quality time with your children is priceless. Even when your children are grownups spending time with them is a blessing. The prior two days I got to spend time with both of my children.

It was basically two kids, two days and two hospitals. Yes thatís right two hospitals. Both of my kids went to hospitals with some kind of infections in two consecutive days. They called and without hesitation I jumped.

My dear sonís day was Thursday morning. Phone rings at about 5:45 or so. Daughter in law letting us know that they are at Mercy hospital. The boy has a had a fever of over 102 for quite sometime. Denise had to be to work at 6:30 and get things started than she would be able to come back. She wanted someone to be with Andy while he was there. Of course I was more than happy to be there.

Once they gave him some fluids and antibiotics he began to get better. All is well at this time.

Than on Friday at 6:20 am the phone rings and itís my dear daughter calling to tell us she was going to the hospital. Not necessarily to have a baby but because she is sick morning. Son in law was in Oregon or Washington doing hi pilot thing. Without hesitation I said I am on my way. I was out of the house within 10 minutes and speeding down the highway. The normal 2 hour 15 minute drive took 2 hours. We spent the better part of the day together. Son in law got into Duluth about 2:30

It appears a viral bug has taken up residency. Baby and Kara are doing fine.

In the meantime this Dad is beaming. My children are my treasures and being able to still lend them comfort makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. I am blessed.