Monthly Archives: December 2015

The Team Ortho Debacle and Other Miscellaneous Musings…

Not much going on right now, but a few small updates.

My refund for the Minneapolis Duathlon finally came through. This was the event that was postponed…for a full year…because the inept race director did not realize that the downtown construction would cause a problem (even though several of us questioned it six months earlier). The new date conflicted with a 2016 sprint triathlon that I had already registered for…and gave me a decent excuse to get out of the last event I had scheduled with Team Ortho. They were the group that organized my first race and first marathon. But their incompetent inability to stage an event (for a ton of money) without a whole bunch of screw ups left me without much choice but to boycott their events in the future. I am not the only one.

They got written up on local news for how little they actually donate to their charity partners, and got written up in Runners World.

KARE 11 Investigates Team Ortho

Runners World Expose on Team Ortho

They carry an “F” rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Better Business Bureau F rating of Team Ortho

They responded by sending many of us a free buff and propaganda response to the allegations. Here are the scans.





I have run most of their races for the past four years. The events are fun, and the swag is nice, but they are a disorganized mess. I once received three bibs (one in person, two in the mail) for the same race. They now only have water at the aid stations (no Gatorade…for a half marathon). They charge $30 to mail a bib (or to allow race day packet pick up). They canceled a marathon…at the starting line…because of light rain…and had no way of announcing it…but they distributed the “finishers” medals. They also have different swag and medals for the half and full marathon…but they all state “marathon finisher”. Their “warming tents” at the -30F Polar Dash were  completely ineffective. So were the timing mats used at the Monster Dash a few years back (leading to the request that we email our official finish time to the timing company…lots of PRs that day I would guess). Several more PRs at one of the Polar Dash -30F half marathon…where runners were encouraged…over the public address system…during the starting announcements…to cut the course because “we won’t be checking”. When they moved the Monster Dash 5k to the same course and time as the Half Marathon, they could not accommodate the volume of runners…so the faster half marathons had to stop because the last mile was packed with the 5k walkers. Of course, this year, they separated the finish lines, but the 5k finish area was so jammed packed that people stood around for 15 minutes…100 yards from finishing. Then, series members had to wait about an hour in the cold rain just to get the series medal. I could go on, but the Women Rock Chicago event in the Runners World article was even worse (see link).

Their approach to customer service is…unique. Questions on their Facebook pages (and e-mails) are ignored. Negative comments posted on their Facebook page are deleted (so, someone is reading them). When the KARE 11 story broke, they erased every single post-to-page on every single one of their Facebook pages.

Needless to say, I am glad to be done with them, and relieved that I got a refund for the “postponed” event.

In other news, my offseason is in full swing. It is too cold and icy to run outside. My training is way down, and I am struggling to do the recommended 150 minutes of cardio/week. I hop on the treadmill from time to time, catch up on movies while on the bike trainer, I have been to the pool and indoor track a couple of times each. But my fitness is fading a little and I am starting to get concerned about my upcoming races. However, it has been good to let minor nagging injuries heal, and to take some downtime from constant training.

I have been good with the diet over Christmas. My weight has dropped from 152.5 lbs to 144.5 lbs (I have not seen anything below 145 lbs in over a year). I would like to drop about five more pounds before I head out on my trip next month, and can then go back to maintenance mode.

My Star Wars/DisneyLand Half Marathon/10k/5k event is under three weeks away. I have not done anything close to a Half Marathon distance since October, so I am a little worried…but this isn’t a PR race…it is a jogging between character photo stops type of event. I get to go someplace warmer and take a little fun.

After that, I have a 5k in February, a 10 miler in March followed by an another identical Star Wars event in Florida in April. In May, I am scheduled to run the Fargo Half Marathon. I may still bump it up to a full if I can ramp up training enough in the spring.

Thats about all that is happening in my offseason. How are you handing your offseason and winter training?




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Tales of my Wandering Waistline…

My journey started with with weight loss, not fitness.

Over 4 years ago, my loosest pair of pants were too tight. I had to do something…new diet or new wardrobe. I opted for the diet first. The goal was to lose 10 lbs. I ended up losing 50 lbs instead. I got really strict with the diet, and it had become comfortable. The smaller portions were satisfying, the healthy foods enjoyable. I did not miss the burgers, fries, or ice cream.

Once the weight had stabilized, I started to run. I found that I had to eat more due to the physical activity. Weight stayed the same, the body fat dropped.

Then the runs got longer.

Then I started training for Ironman.

I had a lot of fears going into that. The biggest fear was how it would affect my diet. For months, I was completing 20+ hours/week of training. I had to force food down on long training days. The food choices were healthy, the quantity was needed (at the time), but were reviving bad eating habits.

A healthy weight for me is under 155 lbs (BMI of 25.0). I bottomed out at 141.5 lbs (about a BMI of 23). I settled into a range of 143 lbs-147 lbs. I set a “panic weight” of 150 lbs-the weight that would trigger emergency action.

Post Ironman, I was still running-just not as much. My diet did drop from my 4000+ calorie/day peak, but not enough. The weight drifted slightly (new norm was 145-150lbs). Heading into the offseason, the diet was awful…best described as “no chocolate left behind” approach to food.

Finally, the inevitable occurred last week…the scale tipped over the panic weight…152.5 lbs.

I had been at these turning points before. I knew that, if I failed to take action, the the slide would continue…and pick up speed.

I went back into hardcore diet mode…during the toughest time of year.

My workplace has been filled with chocolate all week…I didn’t touch any of it. We had our holiday luncheon at work…I stuck to the turkey breast with a small amount of cranberry sauce and a huge green salad (skipping the dressing). I walked right past the desert table without indulging.

One week later, I am down to 147 lbs (mostly water weight loss, but some of it genuine). The weight loss will slow down (always does after week one) but I don’t have that far to go. I want to stay strict until after the holiday to cement in the good habits again before resuming a maintenance mode (with rare indulgences).

Tomorrow, I will see Star Wars (no popcorn or snacks). Christmas and New Years should be manageable. The trip to DisneyLand for the Star Wars Half Marathon in January will be a little bit tougher.

I can do this. I will NOT throw away all the work I did over the past 4+ years. I have made that mistake before…

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The Allure of the 50 Marathons/50 States

First of all, I have given up on this idea and I am NOT changing my mind about it.

But I can still see the allure of it…

Starting with a blank map, you start to fill in the spaces. Before you know it, you have a fair size chunk filled in.

I completed a back to back marathon weekend a couple of months ago, and filled in two states in one trip…Missouri and Iowa. The map now looks like this…


There is a nice solid and satisfying streak down the middle of the nation. Is does bring up the temptation to fill in a few more…

I am registered for the Fargo Half Marathon next spring. Upgrading that to the full would let me claim North Dakota. Sioux Falls (South Dakota), Omaha (Nebraska), and Olathe (Kansas) are all on the eastern borders of their states and a fairly easy drive from Minneapolis. That would really beef up that filled in area on the map. Of course, Chicago is still on the “must do” list. That would leave Indiana as a blank gap in the Midwest. I suppose I could fill in the gap during a trip home to see family in Detroit. Then, of course, there is the NYC Marathon (New York) and Marine Corps Marathon (Virginia) that would really start filling in the Northwest…

Yes, I can see how it can become a bit of an obsession. I think that I will just stick with what I have already got.

Well, except maybe Fargo, since I am going there anyways…


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The Downside of “Bling Motivation”…

I run for bling…

Well, not exactly. I run for health and fitness. I run to relax, to have “me time”, to help keep my weight off, and because I just enjoy doing it.

I run RACES for bling.

Sure, being surrounded by other runners, challenging myself, finding new courses, getting some awesome photos, and setting a new PR are all awesome too. But, all else being equal, the races with the coolest bling will get my registration fee.

Unfortunately, the race medals are not always available for review upon sign-up, and I am going on hope and faith. Sometimes, that will result in disappointment and missed opportunities.

I picked Pittsburgh over Fargo last spring. Pittsburgh had some amazing medals in recent years. Fargo didn’t. So, Pittsburgh ended up with pretty boring bling in 2015, and Fargo may have fad the coolest marathon medal of 2015. Bummer.

The only negatives about Ironman Wisconsin in 2014 was that Mike Riley did not call me an Ironman, and this thing…


I mean, seriously, what is that?

My latest disappointment comes courtesy of Disney (they have started to produce some pretty awful bling of late…like a medal of a slipper?). I love Star Wars, so I had to sign up for the new Disney Star Wars races. There are 2 weekends. DisneyLand (5k, 10k, Half Marathon, Rebel Challenge (HM/10k combo). Here’s the hardware…


The HM medal is a reproduction of the “Medal of Bravery” given to Han and Luke in the final scene of the original Star Wars-A New Hope. This is an inspired idea (even if the medal looks bland and generic…it is a geek out item for fanboys like myself). The Rebel Challenge medal looks nice. X-Wing is a cool design but looks a little out of place next to the others (but othe ships were planned for WDW SW to go with it).

Overall, a mixed bag of bling, and was hoping for better at WDW. It was announced that the medals would feature the Death Star and Millennium Falcon! It was also announced that there would be another 5k, 10k, and  Half Marathon, along with a Dark Side Medal Challenge Medal (10k/HM), and Kessel Run Medal for doing both the DL and WDW events! Awesome! Sign me up!

The medal designs were released yesterday…


Whole lot of dull monotone gray going on. The Tie Fighter looks amazing for the 10k…and is easily the best of the bunch. The Kessel Run Challenge medal (Falcon) looks like it was designed by a 6 year old. The Dark Side Challenge Death Star looks like a garbage can. I guess the HM medal is supposed to be Darth Sideous, but it looks like a gray lump of coal on a string…
I suppose that they may look way better in person, and that I am just getting way too picky in my old age, but I did expect better from Disney and was hoping for something truly exciting for all of the cost, time and expense involved.
Dont get me wrong, I am still very much looking forward to both weekends. The races and mini vacations will be amazing! But I was hoping for something just a little bit more amazing…



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