Category Archives: Random Musings

Anything that doesn’t really fit anywhere else.

Views From The Finish Line…A Final Look Back.

There is never a true “beginning” to any story, nor is there ever a true “ending”. There is always a “before” and there will always be an “after” to absolutely everything.

There are, however, convenient starting and ending points for a narrative. A story arc always just feels more complete when there is a clear beginning to that tale, and a clear and concise point where that arc comes to its conclusion.

After a five year journey, which started with a vague decision to “lose a few pounds” and to “run a 5k”, I believe that this narrative has come to an end at the finish line of this week’s Twin Cities 10 Mile.

This does not mean that I will stop running, but this blog was intended to document my journey “from couch to Ironman”. That journey ended 2 years ago. It changed as I tried to find a new calling, a new passion. I dabbled in Ultramarathon and tried the 50 states marathon club. I even tried cross-country skiing. None of these endeavors excited me and those pursuits were abandoned. Finally, I decided that I just needed balence and to make running a PART of my life and a PART of my identity…not it’s sole defining feature. I decided upon this months ago…after signing up for most of this year’s events…and I made it to the end of that schedule. In the process, I tied up some loose ends and found peace in this new harmony.

Ultimately, this passion is something that will be more organic, more subdued, more balenced. It is changing my approach to running.

Events will be for fun and to motivate me to stay healthy. I have not been competative in awhile (except for the surprising results in Waconia) and I have mostly let go of that pressure. As such, the nature of these events will change as well. They will no longer be selected to push my body, and my boundaries, to the brink. They will not be extreme. They will also not be the basis of my yearly life schedule. Traveling for events will occur very rarely (if at all). I won’t bother with race swag or photos (unless included with registration fees) as the swag never gets used and all the race photos look the same after awhile.

My blog will also go dormant. This document was mostly for my own benefit. It was to keep me accountable and to track my journey. It has been successful in that regard…and I am stunned that so many others have followed this journey. But my future in the sport will be more mundane and I am finding that I have less and less to say. It is time to bring this to a close as well.

Despite these promised changes, I am not saying “never again”. I may compete in another marathon at some point. The one thing that I feel that I am missing is a World Marathon Major. There are three of these in the United States…Boston, New York, and Chicago. Chicago would be the easiest race logistically…and is the least inspiring for me. New York sounds amazing and is the biggest marathon in the world. Both races are lottery registrations. Boston is a bucket list race for almost any runner. I will NEVER qualify for this race, but I could do a charity registration. I would just need to find a charity that I believe in that would accept me. Maybe this will be a 50th birthday present to myself. Time will tell…

As for triathlons, I will do one or two local sprints every year just to keep me cycling and swimming. I will never do another full distance Ironman, but a 70.3 may be in my future. It is not a priority, but I’m not ruling it out either. It just feels increasingly unlikely. Despite two new Ironman 70.3’s being launched mithin driving distance, I have no current interest in signing up for either event. Time will tell…

USAT Age Group Nationals was an unexpected wild card. I qualified by winning my Age Group at the HITS Sprint Triathlon in Waconia. This opportunity will be too good to pass up and I know that I would regret passing on this race. I have been invited for the Olympic Distance Age Group National Championship in Omaha next year and I will also compete in the Sprint Age Group National Championship (no qualification needed) the next day. This will be the big travel event of 2017. The rest of the year’s schedule looks quite minimalist by my standards:

-Hot Chocolate 15k (Minneapolis) – April
-Lifetime Tri Minneapolis (Sprint Distance) – July
-USAT Nationals (Olympic and Sprint) – August
-Twin Cities Loony Challenge (10k, 5k, 10 mile) – October.

If I ever do a big race again (Boston, Ironman 70.3, or any full marathon), I will likely post a race report here. I can almost guarantee a few blog posts for Nationals. But my days of regular blogging has come to an end. To my readers, thank you for following me and for the encouragement and inspiration along the way. You have made this journey easier, and more enjoyable as well.

Before I sign off for the last time, I wanted to take a final look back at my five year journey…the medals, the 50 States Marathon map, and the views from the finish lines…

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Qualifying For Nationals

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Although I was pretty sure that I had qualified for USA Triathlon National Age Group Championship at HITS Waconia, it was nice to get official confirmation this morning. USAT Olympic Age Group National Championship is the only (non-Ironman) qualification only race in the United States, and is the first time that I have successfully qualified for a race. Sure, I was able to bypass the lottery and get guaranteed entry once in Houston, and I have received prefered coral placement as well, but the only way into this race is to qualify. It may not be quite as prestigious as Boston Marathon or Ironman Kona, but this is still very special and exciting for me. I never would have thought this would be possible and it exceeds all of my hopes and expectations. Omaha may not be Kona or Boston, but Omaha will be MY Kona and Boston combined. It is a validation that I have truly am a triathlete. It is validation that I belong…

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Another exciting triathlon weekend…

…as a spectator.

As many fans gear up for the first NFL game of the season, I have been glued to my iPad watching real time results of so many friends across the country tackling their last big races of the year.

So many stories. So much inspiration.

Yesterday, two of my friends did their second ever triathlon…and their first Olympic distance and first race with an OWS. They ended up first and second in their age group.

Today, another friend is competing at Cedar Point Rev3 70.3 triathlon. She has completed several 70.3’s and this is her last one before she can register for her first full distance Ironman (IM Florida 2017…on her birthday).

But, the main event has to be Ironman Wisconsin…the same race I completed 2 years ago. So many friends are there that it is hard to keep track of them all. Many are veterans looking at setting a new PR. Some are first timers who are just hoping to finish.

Three of them have unfinished business.

The first is an outstanding athlete who I competed with 2 years ago. I met at a century ride a couple of months earlier. She got a stress fracture in her hip the week before the race. Her orthopedist grudgingly gave her the green light to swim and bike, but firmly told her not to run. She crushed the first two legs of the race but made the decision to put flip flops instead of running shoes in her T2 transition bag. I remember feeling like death coming out of T2 wondering how I could ever finish (I could barely stand up or walk), and I heard her cheering me on from the sidelines. Her day was done. I still had a chance. That gave me the mental push I needed to keep going. She has taken a break to recover, and is there to finish what she started.

The second is a middle of the pack Ironman who keeps going back despite having to concur panic attacks on the swim every single race. Last year, he got a DNS since he needed urgent spine surgery. He was told that one wrong move could paralyze him. Now he is back to race again.

The third athlete reminds me of me…but with a lot more heart and courage. He lost 100 pounds and lined up at the start with me in 2014. He fell a little short and got swept at mile 15 on the run. He was first in line to sign up for 2015. That year, he had a very rough bike race and his legs kept cramping up. He reached T2  but missed the cutoff by less than 30 seconds. His legs were so badly cramped that he could not unclip as he came to a stop that he crashed his bike. Since this was the bike in at T2, it was being streamed lived as we all watched in horror as the ambulance arrived. He was ok, and again 1st in line to register the next day. If Ironman was measured in the size of someone’s heart and determination instead of finish time and distance, he would be the IM Wisconsin Champion. I have followed his progress this year…and he is ready. His swim split was 11 minutes faster than last year and 19 minutes faster than2014.

I will be glued to the live streams all of these champions cross the finish line in Madison.

Is this inspiring me to sign up for another Ironman? Nope…not a chance. I am thrilled by that race, but have no desire to do it again.

But it is inspiring me to try and do more than just show up at nationals next year. I know I won’t be competitive, but I can give it my best effort. It is also making me wonder about a return to the 70.3 distance. It has been two years since I have done anything but a sprint. Ironman launched a new 70.3 in Ohio this year and will be launching a new Ironman 70.3 in Madison Wisconsin next year.

Maybe I can build up to those as my “A” races of 2018 and 2019.

Time will tell…

 

UPDATE: Everyone successfully finished their events. The three athletes profiled above are all Ironmans now.  Another friend (that I didn’t know was racing) finished first in her age group and qualified for Nationals. It was a great weekend. Now the long  hard triathlon off season begins. Of course, that also brings the fall running season. I completed back-to-back 10 milers this weekend in preparation for the Twin Cities Marathon Weekend next month. Not used to running more then 5k anymore…

 

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The Journey Towards “Life Fitness”

“I always try to explain to people that peak performance and life fitness are really different worlds. When you are trying to maximize everything you can out of your body, you’re also getting that much closer to getting an injury, getting burnt out, or paying a price that you may never get back. Life fitness is about figuring out: ‘What can I do every day so I feel better today and tomorrow and I can still go and do something and do it next year and the year after that until I’m 98?’ That’s kind of what my athletic quest is now.”

Mark Allen – Six Time Ironman World Champion

 

I found the above quote in the 2016 Fargo Marathon Results Magazine. Mark was the keynote speaker at the Fargo Marathon Expo and did a throwaway Q+A article for the magazine.

It nicely summarizes my journey for the past two years.

When I started running, it was new and exciting. I was in awe of what I could do and kept setting bigger and bigger goals for myself until I crossed the finish line in Madison. For the next two years, I struggled with motivation and burnout. I felt that the new goals (Ultramarathon, 50 marathon states, back to back marathons, etc) should be motivating but it was burning me out. I realized that my path was not sustainable. I have been radically cutting back on training and events trying to find something that I could enjoy, maintain, and that would be worth maintaining. So, this quote resonated with me.

Interestingly, in the past few weeks, I think that I may have found that balence. I have been on a regular and consistent training schedule…and I have been enjoying it. It is a far cry from my Ironman days, but more then most middle aged adults do routinely, and it should help me maintain some degree of “Life Fitness”.

Here’s the current schedule:

Monday + Tuesday: rest (work schedule does not allow for a regular workout)
Wednesday: 1 mile swim
Thursday: 32 mile bike/5k run
Friday, Saturday, Sunday: 10k run

The whole thing averages about 1 hour/day. I am not trying to break any speed records, nor do I have any complex drills. It is just “me” time. With the exception of Thursday, the whole workout is done before anyone else is out of bed. It does not take away from family time.

This feels right. It feels sustainable. It is also something I can use as a springboard for future training if the desire ever returns…

 

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Triathlon Training Season Begins…

…of course, I am starting a little late this year. First triathlon is in 1 month.

Whoops…

Fortunately, I am just participating for fun this year…and to give me a reason to get to the pool and bike trail.

Once the Fargo Marathon was behind me, I got to work setting up a regular running schedule and building up good habits again. But, with a Half Marathon and 3 sprint triathlons coming up soon, I need to ramp up running mileage AND get the cross training going. Two days ago, I hit the pool for the first time since January. Swam a mile and it felt good. Yesterday, I hit the bike trail and completed 32 miles followed by a 5k run. Today, a 15k run completed at the crack of dawn before it got too hot and muggy outside.

Sure, this pales by comparison to previous seasons, but great to know that I can still do this much….

…and I was having fun again! How cool is that?

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A Degree of “Extreme”…

A common conversation among Ironman Finishers is which Ironman race is the hardest.

This happens A LOT.

It generally starts with a newbie asking which races are easier or beginner friendly. Then the standard disclaimers start up. “There is no such thing as an easy Ironman”, “They are all 140.6 miles”. Everyone agrees that there is no “easier” Ironman. Then people start expressing that some races are “more hard”. Of course, the “more hard” races are always the events that the speaker has participated in. Funny how that works out….

Level of difficulty will always be subjective in these conversations. Much of it has to do with the participants own strengths and weaknesses. Are they technically strong cyclists? Can you run in the heat or cold? Wetsuit legal vs warm swim? I would, of course, play up IM Wisconsin’s very technical bike course with the big elevation gain and the mass swim start whenever I would wade into these pissing matches…assuming that there would never be a true winner in these debates…until now.

LAVA Magazine (official publication of Ironman) has endorsed IronIndex.com as the official ranking of all Ironman races (this ranking also includes all Challenge/Rev3 races worldwide). A total of 50 of the biggest and most well known Iron Distance races are ranked in terms of their overall level of difficulty. They are then branded as “Standard”, “Difficult”, “Intense”, and “Extreme”. To put it in perspective, the Ironman World Championship is 9th on the list and ranked as “Intense” (only eight races worldwide are listed as “Extreme”).

Imagine my surprise to find that the race I completed (Ironman Wisconsin) listed as the 6th toughest race…in the world (and considered an “Extreme” event)!

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Mind Blown.

It is listed as a tougher race then Malasia. Malasia! That race has a “monkey zone” on the bike course. Participants are warned not to eat or drink anything in the monkey zone since the monkeys are aggressive, not afraid of humans, and will attack you on your bike. The course guide advises that participants should carry a big stick when riding and a tutorial on how to use that stick if attacked. Somehow, that race is considered easier then Wisconsin.

Of course, there are a lot of disclaimers for such a list. It only considers current Ironman and Challenge events. Discontinued events (Ironman Tahoe and Ironman Muskoka are both off the list), other series (HITS), non-Iron Distance (X-Terra), and independent events (Alaska-Man, Norse-Man) are conveniently excluded. The list also assumes “average” weather conditions. Ironman has been cursed with some bad weather of late (108F at Coeur D’Alene, hypothermia conditions in Florida, forest fires in Tahoe, modified swim due to poor water quality/shortened bike due to flooding and construction/suspended run due to lightning in IM Texas this year. Variables like these would dramatically affect the course’s level of difficulty on any given day (I was fortunate to have ideal weather for my race day).

So, does the “extreme” ranking matter? It shouldn’t, but to me, it does (at least a little bit).

Had I seen this rating before registering, I may have reconsidered my decision to participate…so I am glad that I never saw this beforehand. But it reaffirms to me that my training was no joke. It reaffirms that crossing the finish line wasn’t beginners luck. That victory was earned, and I did something remarkable that day. I may not be able to repeat the achievement, but it emphasizes that I am capable of completing something that is (almost) impossible.

But I still think that mutant monkeys would be harder…

 

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A Return To Running “Naked”…

February 2012

I had just purchased my first pair of running shoes and had laced up for my very first run…ever. The course was pretty basic (same loop I run today). A residential road branches off the county highway. It comes to an intersection leading to three cul-de-sacs. There are no outlets (except for the highway which has no shoulders for pedestrians). If I run in my neighborhood, I run to the highway (hitting all of the cul-de-sacs) before returning home. Walking out my door, I knew that it was the only running option I had. I had no idea how long this loop was…or if I could travel the whole distance.

At the last minute, I put on a digital watch. I knew I had one with a stopwatch, but the battery had died. This one was as primitive as they got…hours and minute…that’s it.

I wrote down the start time when I left home. I wrote down the finish time when I got home. I then got in the car and drove around the neighborhood with my trip odometer set to zero. When I got home, it read 2.9 miles. I calculated my minutes/mile…and had no idea what it meant. Was I fast, or slow, or average? I had no idea.

A new love, a new obsession was born.

Shortly thereafter, the existence of GPS watches became known to me…something call a “Garmin”. It was my next purchase.

Between that moment and the end of 2014, the fixation was on speed and distance. How far and how fast became the driving concerns. It was all about the numbers..the experience was secondary. Anyone who followed this blog during my 2014 will nod in agreement if they remember my weekly workout summaries…how many minutes spent swimming, how many miles on the bike, the % increase in running distance from the previous week, and the % increase in overall workout time from the prior week. It was a whole damn spreadsheet of data that I would mine for insight and revelation. I still have it all (hell, I published it all as an appendix to a shutterfly photo book with all of my Ironman race photos). I still flip through those pages to remember the journey. In looking back, I recall just how insane it all was…

After that season, the big dream was gone. I don’t know if that was the reason, but I started getting slower…a lot slower. I maintained some decent mileage (nothing like 2014) but that was slowly dwindling as well.

My number crunching became more and more depressing…and my hobby became less and less enjoyable. I wonder if that is because my hobby was the numbers, not the running experience.

Running became a chore without a payoff and my training for Fargo was a joke. I planned to step away from racing after that event and to reconnect with running.

This weekend was the first step in that journey. Over the three day weekend, I went for three runs…the first time I have strung together that many consecutive runs since last October. I also did something unheard of…I left the Garmin behind. I would be running “naked”…free of the pace, heart rate, and split times. I ran two laps each time…likely a little over an hour and likely a little under six miles. I’ll never know for sure. I also left the iPod behind. We had lovely weather all three days. For once, my focus was the experience…and nothing else. Yes, my knees and ankles were sore, and this was hard work, but I was trying to set up good habits…once that can become a routine with long term health benefits and something I can sustain and enjoy.

I am also, I realize, connecting with the activity of running, and not the statistics of the sport. It was a different experience.

These were also three of the most enjoyable runs I have had in a long time…

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Confessions From a Running Hoarder…

I tend to collect stuff.

Baseball cards, autographs, Star Wars action figures, and even Beanie Babies.

So, as I ventured into my new hobby of running, I fell in love with the bling. It represented an accomplishment that I felt were beyond my limits. They also look darn cool. Many of my race selections (including my final marathon last week) were made almost entirely on the basis of bling quality. All of these are on display in my home gym. The racks are quite full.

I also saved all the running bibs. I am not alone in this…an online company makes a bib folio with vinyl pouches to store these. Next to each bib, I have a printout of my race results. If finishers certificates were printable, then they are here as well. Race stickers are placed on the covers. Race guides are slid into the pouches as well.

Remember…I will be running race #100 next month. That’s a lot of bibs.

Then there is all of the other stuff.

Race photos. I almost always buy them (you see them here in this blog). I have them all on my phone and iPad. I have made a couple of Shutterfly books (with a third that I will finish off at the end of the season). Most are pics of me looking like I am about to die. But, since I was never athletic, these photos have a weird fascination for me.

And, at every event, I get at least one shirt. Usually, these are short sleeved running shirts. Occasionally, we get the long sleeved variety. Other “freebies” include cotton t-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, hats, hoodies, and even socks. In my early days of running, I would look at the clearance rack at the expo. Often the previous year’s shirts were far cheaper then plain running shirts available at the store (often $5 or less), so I would stock up on these for my training run. At bigger events (marathons, Ironman 70.3’s, Disney races), I would buy extra souvenirs (hats, posters, backpacks, coffee mugs, collectible pins-a Disney thing). I think I filled the trunk of my car for Ironman Wisconsin. Several months after Ironman, their online store had an end of season clearance event…and a lot of items were mispriced…hello $3 cycling jerseys…I’ll take 6 please…

Then, there is all the gear you need that isn’t “free”. Shorts, thermal tops, tights, shoes, gloves, race belts. I bought one set of “cold weather gear” when I started (it wasn’t enough at first as these were always in the wash during winter months…and layering was important). So, again, I would stock up when a sale would pop up.

Of course, there is all of the freebies at the expos…water bottles, shoulder bags, frisbees, lip balm, band aids, ice packs, towels. Most of the stuff was junk, but I stashed it away “just in case”.

I also have a medicine cabinet of Glide, vasolene, band-AIDS, salt tablets, etc.

Lets not forget cycling gear, helmets, cycling shoes, swimsuits, trisuits, wetsuits, goggles, iPods, earbuds, Garmins…

Its a lot of stuff.

So, with my final marathon behind me, and a move towards shorter distances/more regularity in running/no outdoor winter running/fewer events, I decided to wade through this mess and thin it out. Mostly, I was looking at the wardrobe excesses.

I took over the laundry room with stacks of running gear years ago. I tried to keep it seasonal and limited in scope (enough clothing to last 1-2 weeks). Despite these good intentions, it was a mess. It was also a very small amount of my running gear. A few shirts found their way into my regular rotation. These items just don’t wear out…so I never had to replace them…and the new gear just stacked up elsewhere. I found mountains of them.

After going through them, I decided that I would keep some shirts as souvenirs. The official event shirt from my first half marathon, every full marathon and every Disney race was set aside. I was more generous with Ironman swag (finishers shirts, cycling jersey, cotton and long sleeve polyester “name” shirts, and hats from each event).

I set aside a small pile of short and long sleeve shirts, shorts, socks and hats for regular summer use. I also set aside a larger stack of layers for cool weather (but NOT mid-winter running). Some non-running swag (t-shirts, hoodies, truckers hats) that I would actually wear in the real world were also set aside. This still left bags finishers shirts (most still have tags on them) that I don’t know what to do with. Someone suggested making a quilt…but most of these events were meaningless to me…so I can’t see spending money on this type of project. I suppose I could use the marathon shirts, and duplicate Ironman shirts since these “special” shirts will likely just gather dust in the closet and I could actually see them this way. Alternatively, I could donate them all to goodwill, but I don’t know if they would even want them. So, they are bagged in the basement for now.

Most of the shoulder bags, water bottles, frisbees, etc. have been tossed. The laundry room is a laundry room again. In the process of doing so, I had visions of being featured on one of the cable network hoarding shows. Even after the purge, I suspect that I still still could. I still have the medals and bibs…and action figures, autographs, trading cards…and the Beanie Babies are still hiding somewhere…

 

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Looking To The Future – It’s Time To Hang Up The Running Shoes…

In a few short weeks, I will be running my 100th event…the Red, White & Boom Half Marathon. It has been a constant event on my schedule since I started running in 2012. It seems like a fitting 100th event.

The 100th event milestone is also a good opportunity to look back on my journey and reflect on my future goals.

Over the last several month, I have had a chance to do just that. I have realized that the time has come to make some decisions about my hobbies of racing, running, and triathlon. I have come to one unavoidable conclusion.

It is time to quit.

…and I am very much at peace with that decision.

This does not mean “never again”, but racing has become a part time job that interferes with all other aspects of my life. Fitness and wellbeing need to stay. A full calendar of events, lost weekends of traveling to forgettable races for another non-PR and a shirt I will never wear…that all needs to go.

As many of you already know, my training and motivation have been…uhhh…nonexistent this season. Those who follow my blog will not be surprised by this. I tend to be all or nothing in my passions, and running has dwindled down to nothing.

Of course, I had a few reality checks lately. We lost both of our dogs to illness, we got a new puppy, I had a couple health scares (false alarms), an aging mother who is developing more health concerns, and life in general is just making its presence known. This has resulted in my workouts dropping to a couple of 45-60 minute sessions per week. I was not running outside due to cold weather, icy roads, a couple of irresponsible dog owners in the neighborhood, chronic ankle injuries, a prolonged bronchitis, and a general lack of interest in the whole thing.

Since Ironman (easily the highlight of my running career) I have struggled with dwindling interest. I have tried going back to running only. Hated it. I tried shorter events (and fewer of them). Those just seemed like chores when they came around.

I am tired of the expense, the stress and the time lost in traveling to events. Even local events are a 1 hour drive each way, plus extra time for parking and a lot of sitting around waiting for the event to start. A 5k takes up the better part of a weekend day. Don’t even get me started on the “no race day packet pickup” with the 2-3 hours of driving the day before the race.

Yep, the passion is gone.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy running and triathlon. I appreciate the health benefits. But this schedule of 2-3 weekends a month being filled with one thing or another has worn out its welcome.

I am also tired of having my hobby define who I am. Running is a small part of me, not the sum total of what I have become.

As a result, I will be making some serious changes.

For starters, no more traveling. It is too expensive, takes to much time, and involves too much stress.

Next, far fewer events (i.e.: practically none).

The only event that I will certainly continue until I stop running completely is the Twin Cities Marathon Weekend. It is one of the biggest and best running events in the nation, and is the highlight on the calendar every year. There is a phenomenal expo, a marathon, a 10 mile, a 10k and a 5k…as well as multi-event challenges. I can do as much or as little as want to. Also, if any event will rekindle my passion, this would be the one.

Aside from that, I will likely have a sprint triathlon on the calendar somewhere. I have the gear, and one event on the calendar will keep my bike from rotting in the garage. A bike ride in Elm Creek Park is a wonderful summertime experience, and I just need an excuse to get out there. The premier sprint Triathlon in the Twin Cities is Lifetime Minneapolis Triathlon and will likely remain my triathlon of choice.

This gives me a summer triathlon and a fall race. I may do something in the spring as well, but there is no obvious must do local event. Likely, I will just sign up for something at the last minute depending on schedule, weather, and motivation. Next year, it will be the Hot Chocolate 15k in April since I deferred the event this year (due to a conflict with Star Wars).

I may run an event or two at the last minute. If the weather will be beautiful, and I have a quiet weekend on tap, then I may sign up for a race just for the fun of it. But the days of developing massive training plans, and of planning my life around races, are behind me.

I had actually made this decision before WDW Star Wars. The stress of getting flights, shuttles, hotels, park tickets, and fast passes was getting to me. When I made that decision, I felt a heavy burden drop. Knowing that Disney was my final race-cation allowed me to enjoy it a lot more (and I felt less guilty spending the time and the money knowing that I would never do this again). Fargo was likely my final out of town trip for a race. Red White & Boom may be my final half-marathon (time will tell). This made for a bittersweet weekend in Fargo, but I was at peace during that final long run.

For the rest of this year, I have a fairly light schedule (by my previous racing standards), and I do intend to see it through. I have three sprint triathlons over the summer, and the Loony Challenge (5k, 10k, 10 mile) at the TC Marathon Weekend in October. It will be a final tour of some well loved events that I will likely enjoy even more without the headache of planning for 10 additional events down the road.

I am not absolutely ruling out a return to marathon and big events at some point down the road, but this return is unlikely and would be far off on the horizon. I currently have nothing on the radar. The only thing that I feel that I am missing from my running resume is a world marathon major (Chicago or New York). The thought of training, dealing with the lottery, and hassle/expense of travel is more then I want to deal with right now, but maybe someday. Alternatively, I may just sign up for one final Twin Cities Marathon if I feel compelled to run one more big race.

Another option would be going to Boston as a charity runner. The cost of this would be huge (I doubt I would be a successful fundraiser, so I would write a check to a charity I believe in). This would be an amazing way to finish the journey, but such an endeavor would be far in the future, and only if the passion was there to warrant the time, stress and expense.

For now, the running “career” is over. It was a fun streak which included the following accomplishments (by the end of the year):

-16 marathons in 11 states
-over 25 half-marathons
-over 100 events
-10 century rides
-18 triathlons
-5 Half-Ironmans
-one 50k ultra
-2 marathons in 2 states in 2 days
-membership in Marathon Maniacs, Half Fanatics, Dual Agents, and 50 Marathon States Clubs
-Ironman Wisconsin
-good health, improved self confidence, and a bucket full of memories.

Looking forward, I will continue with wellness and fitness, and I will show up to a couple of events a year for the simple joy of participating. I will blog race reports for the rest of the season, but I doubt that I will have much to say beyond that. I am following many athletes here and will continue to chear for all of you from the sidelines.

To everyone who has followed my journey and who has offered support, I thank you all. You have lifted me up when I was down, shared in my successes, and have given me more then you know…

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The Reasons Why Nobody Should Ever Register For Another Team Ortho Event…

Spring 2012.

I had just lost 55 lbs and had reached my ideal body weight. I was looking for a way to help maintain this accomplishment. I had found running.

I then did something that I never would have imagined. I signed up for a race.

It was St Patrick’s Day, and it was a beautiful spring day. Sunny. High 70’s. A little warm, but I didn’t mind. I was going to try running my first ever 5k (well, 7k actually).

…and I was terrified. I thought I would be laughed at. I thought that I wouldn’t belong.

I was wrong.

I did better then I could have imagined. I got a cool stained glass (errr…plastic) finishers medal, and a finishers hoodie. I hung up the medal on a medal display in my exercise room and it looked so lonely. I had to get a few others.

I was hooked.

The event was the Team Ortho – Get Lucky. My first race.

A few months later, I ran my first marathon with Team Ortho, then my first Duathlon. I think I have completed about 20 events with Team Ortho…

…and every year, I became more disgusted with their organization and their way of doing business. I finally gave up on them after waiting for close to an hour in a cold rain to get my Monster Series medal after the final race of the season (previously, we just got it at the finish line with our race medal). It didn’t surprise me.

Over the years, I have had a duathlon cancelled at the last minute due to construction that had been taking place on the course all summer, I have had a marathon canceled at the starting line due to severe weather (it barely sprinkled), I have had to e-mail them what I believed to be my race finish time to them since the timing mats didn’t work (they used that as the official time…lots of PR’s recorded that day), I had heard pre-race instructions to runners on the starting line (for an out-and-back race on a cold winter day) to “turn around anytime…we won’t check…and there is no timing mat at the turn-around”.

I have received 3 bibs for the same race with three chips…and no idea if any of them worked. I have stood around 100 yards from the finish line since they had oversold the event and nobody could move.

They stopped supplying Powerade on the longer courses since they would have had to pay for it (despite the $100+ registration fees). They suspended a duathlon at T2 because of the heat, and awarded everyone a DNF and a finishers medal.

Charities have reported not getting a dime from Team Ortho despite it being a non-profit (but executives routinely fly oversees at Team Ortho’s expense). Three senior executives resigned simultaneously last year in protest. Team Ortho has an “F” rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Last year, Team Ortho waited too long to get permits for Women Rocks in Chicago, and could not get the roads closed as long as needed…so they advised runners that they would enforce much more vigorous cutoff times.

The latest controversy. Team Ortho applied to run the Minneapolis Marathon last year. In August 2015, they were told that one of the roads they proposed to use had been under construction for the last two years, and they bridge they wanted to use would be demolished before race day. They were asked to submit a revised course. They didn’t. They made inquiries about changes a couple of weeks before the event. It was far too late and the request was declined. They are now scrambling to find another venue, and the race will likely be canceled, but they are still accepting registrations. They claim on their website that this was “a situation beyond their control”…

Please do not confuse this group with Twin Cities In Motion, which is an absolutely exceptional organization which hosts the Twin Cities Marathon (easily one of the 10 best marathons in the nation).

Team Ortho, on the other hand, is a parasite on the running community and preys on out of town runners and novice runners who may confuse this with the Twin Cities Marathon.

If you are looking for a great race in the Twin Cities, there are a ton of them. It just isn’t any of these…

As this is being published, Team Ortho has no race course or permit with under 2 weeks until race day…yet registration remains open. Sigh…

http://www.runnersworld.com/watchdog/minneapolis-marathon-organizer-scrambles-to-set-new-course

http://www.runnersworld.com/watchdog/nonprofit-race-organizer-draws-complaints-for-small-donations-to-charity-disorganization

http://www.bbb.org/minnesota/business-reviews/non-profit-organizations-general-membership/team-ortho-foundation-in-minneapolis-mn-96556851

http://www.runnersworld.com/watchdog/nonprofit-race-organizer-draws-complaints-for-small-donations-to-charity-disorganization

 

 

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