Tag Archives: Bling

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 Ahead To My Spring Races…

Compared to previous years, my spring calendar is sparsely populated. This is a good thing since I was waylaid in my training for SEVEN WEEKS with a bronchitis that just would not go away.

I got sick right after the DisneyLand Star Wars HM. I am just now feeling about 100%. During those 7 weeks, I did some infrequent spinning on the stationary bike, and I went for just…ONE…run. That was the Valentine Day 5k…and it kicked my butt. It was on one of the coldest days of the winter and my lungs were not up for the challenge.

In the last week, we got some early warm weather, and I decided that I would go out for an easy 10k. Well, when you have done a total of 5k in 7 weeks, the words “easy” and “10k” should not be used in the same sentence. I was slow. I also managed to (slightly) injure myself. My hip was throbbing by the end of the run, and I felt a little bit of plantar fasciitis setting into my foot the next morning. Since then, I have limited my runs to 5k, and something aches after every one of them.

This does not bode well for my next race. It’s a 10 miler, and it’s this Saturday. I have never been worried about such a short distance (at least, not since I started running in 2012), but my run fitness is just not there. Unfortunately, the weather will be miserable as well (mid 30’s and rain). It is a part of the race series that I am running this year and I don’t want to sacrifice it. So, I will go into it as a long training run and focus of not doing myself any harm.

After that, I have a string of 3 Half Marathons at about monthly intervals before I start my summer triathlon season. I am not too worried about these. If I can pull off the ten miler, I should have little trouble adding an extra 5k over the next several weeks.

First up is the Walt Disney World/Star Wars 5k/10k/HM weekend. That should be a blast. A month later is the Fargo Marathon Weekend. I am scheduled to run the 5k and HM. I had strongly considered bumping it up to one last Full Marathon but the lack of training (and how I was feeling after running a 10k) would make this incredibly stupid. Pity, since the race is supposed to be great, it’s a pancake flat course, and has great bling (they even have a medal for the post race pub crawl!), it would also have added one more state to my marathon list, and they allow a full seven hours to finish the race.

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Love this bottle opener “medal”!!!

Finally, I have the Red, White and Boom Half Marathon on July 4th (annual tradition race for me, and the third race of my series). After that, my long races are done for the year. I have a few sprint triathlons over the summer, then a 5k/10k/10 miler combo at the Twin Cities Marathon Weekend to finish the season.

Once I finish my last HM of the season, I will have to re-evaluate my future in running races. I have the start of plantar fasciitis and IT band issues. My chronic ankle injury is misbehaving, my knees are not happy with my runs, and my motivation isn’t there. The next few races will likely help me decide my running future. But one thing is certain, Disney and Fargo will be my final destination races for the foreseeable future. To much time and money to keep up all of this traveling. Knowing that these will be the final trip actually has me looking forward to these instead of dreading these events. But, for now, I have to get through this weekend’s 10 miler. Hopefully the cold rain clears out a little earlier then predicted…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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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The Year In Review/The Year In Preview

The final events of 2015 are behind me, and the running season is now complete. This a good time to reflect on the season that was, and to plan for the future.

2014 was an incredible success. I completed an Ironman and I had crushing new PR’s at almost every race distance. I was engaged and excited by my training (but I did get a little burnt out on cycling). Overall, it was an incredible season.

2015 could not live up to that year. In the end, the season was a mixed bag. I had scheduled a season that was almost as bold as my 2014 campaign. I decided to go easy on the bike, and to focus on the run, and likely attempted a little bit to much.

On the bike, I cut way back to just over 300 miles (compared to 3000 miles last year). The result was that I started to look forward to cycling again! I competed in 4 triathlons…all of them sprints. It was a lot of fun and I was able to be more competative then I had been in longer events.

Running was another matter. I registered for too many big races, including 5 marathons and one ultra-marathon. I recall being in my start coral at the Pittsburgh Marathon (second marathon of the year) and thinking “I don’t want to be here”. That made for a long season. I was committed to it, but I was dreading it as well. Many days, I wondered if I would even be able to just get through it. Somehow, I completed it all. There were no DNS or DNF this season (and I have never had one). Along the way, I finished my first 50k, my first back to back marathon, and my 15th marathon in different 10 states. I have qualified for membership in the Marathon Maniacs (jumping from level 1 to level 4), Half Fanatics, Double Agents, and 50 Marathons States clubs.

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However, my enjoyment of the long run had faded, and they have become a chore. I was going through the motions when training, and it showed in my speed. I was slowing down at all distances…especially in the marathon. I finished the season with three consecutive marathon “personal worsts”. During this process, I came to realize that my days of running marathons would soon be over.

My priorities are changing. My days of “ultra”-anything are behind me. Huge events that take months to train for, and packed schedules with a race every weekend have taken their toll. I still love to run/bike/swim, but I need balence. I am moving away from being a “competative” runner. I will never qualify for Boston or get up on a podium…and that’s OK. What I want is health and fitness. I want this to be fun. I want to participate in a few events that excite me, but doesn’t require endless hours of training. I want some balence, and not have one (or more) events eating up every single weekend.

I want to be a recreational athlete.

With that in mind, I have put together my 2016 race schedule. It still ended up being a lot busier then I wanted, but a big drop off from this year. There are no marathons. There are four half-marathons and two 10 milers. It has a big running event in the Winter, Spring, and Fall, as well as a few triathlons in summer to keep me engaged. I signed up for a local series at the last minute (Summit Challenge) which has made the year busier then planned.

2016 Race Schedule:
January-Disneyland/Star Wars Half Marathon, 10k, 5k (Rebel Challenge). 3 events in one weekend. I can’t imagine a better event for me. A few days at Disney in the middle of winter, lots of Star Wars geekiness, and a bit of running. Can’t wait for this one!

February-Valentine 5K (Summit Challenge)

March-Hot Dash 10 Mile (Summit Challenge)

April-Walt Disney World/Star Wars Half Marathon, 10k, 5k (Dark Side Challenge/Kessel Run Challenge). The sister event to the January Star Wars series. This may be my last big destination race for the foreseeable future.

May-Fargo Half Marathon and 5k. The Fargo Marathon has a great reputation and has been on my short list of “must do” marathons. It is also “almost local” (just a three hour drive up I-94). Since I am no longer running marathons, this “must-do” is unlikely to ever get done. But I can still race the “Go Far” challenge by combining the Half Marathon and 5k. The bling last year was amazing and it sounds like they will revisit the same design this year. I get the big marathon expo and event feel without having to run 26.2 miles. It also fairly cheap trip needing just one night motel stay and gas.

June-open

July
-Red, White, and Boom Half Marathon (Summit Challenge)
-Lifetime Minneapolis Sprint Triathlon. I really like the Lifetime Triathlon series, and Minneapolis is my favorite course. I look forward to this event every year.

August
-Lifetime Maple Grove Sprint Triathlon. This is the other local Lifetime Triathlon. Not nearly as good as the Minneapolis race, but it is nearby and a lot of fun.
-HITS Wacconia Sprint Triathlon
-Minneapolis Duathlon (postponed from 2015)

September-open

October-Twin Cities Marathon Weekend/Loony Challenge. The TC Marathon is one of the biggest races in the country and the biggest running event in the Twin Cities. This allows me to participate in multiple races, get to the expo, race with the corporate team, and finish the year with a bang. It gives me guaranteed entry into the 10 miler (bypass the lottery) as well as getting an armload of bling.

November-open

December-open

Looking way ahead to 2017, Disney, Fargo, and Summit Challenges all fall off the schedule. So I will likely add one or more MN running series races to the calendar, continue doing the local Lifetime Triathlons, and run the Hot Chocolate 15k that I deferred this season. If I am itching to run a marathon, I might toss my name in the hat for New York or Chicago lotteries (both are world marathon majors), and a part of me wants to run a major before I give up marathons for good. But, I suspect that my marathon days are truly behind me. As far as travel goes, I suspect the Disney runs may be my last “destination” races (unless I get around to Chicago or New York), although I may do one overnight “semi-local” (Fargo, Winonna, Duluth, etc) race a year just to keep things interesting…

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Race Report: Pittsburgh Marathon

May 3, 2015.

Marathon #11-Pittsburgh

It was a beautiful day for a run. Sunny but cool, with just a hint of a breeze. The humidity was low as well.

The corals were filled with runners well before 7am in the streets of downtown Pittsburgh, waiting for the starting gun to fire. I was assigned to coral “B”. I really didn’t belong there.

I had run the 5k yesterday, and I finished in 23:05 (7:25 min/mile pace). I had just missed a PR by 16 seconds, and I had just missed finishing in the top 10 for my age group, and just missed top 100 overall. I can justify my place near the starting line for short course events, but not for the marathon.

Three years ago, I finished my first marathon in 4:27. I have run the same distance 9 more times since then, and I have only topped that finish once. Grandma’s marathon was a cool day, on straight and flat course, with a 15 mph tailwind the whole way. I broke my PR by a mere 52 seconds. I haven’t come close since. My finish times for all the shorter distances have showed steady improvement…but not the marathon.

I didn’t expect that to change today. I have struggled with my training. It was hard to get motivated for the long training runs in the depths of the cold Minnesota winters. By the time it’s icy grip was weakening, the hard training should have been completed and I was barely starting. I always struggle with the sprring marathon training and this year was worse then usual. But my goals have shifted from setting PR’s to simply enjoying these long events and in participating in what I thought was impossible just a few years ago. It still does not excuse my lack of training. I should respect the distance more then I have.This may be a personal worst for me today (and I will have nobody by myself to blame for that), but I will still running and that will make it a good day.

I am surrounded by 18,875 other runners. Most are running the half marathon, some are doing the marathon relay. About 4200 are doing the full marathon.

The gun fires and we stream out of the downtown core. The first couple of miles are boring. We are going through some commercial/industrial areas where everything is shut down for the day. Porta-potties are located every half mile or so (I had too much coffee, so these were a welcomed sight). They had bands at about every mile and the aid stations were plentiful. I ran past a medical station and I saw the expected green flag (ideal running conditions). After a mile or so, we made a couple of left hand turns and headed right back downtown. All the spectators from the starting area were able to shift a block or two to this new vantage point and we’re got some very vocal crowd support. We then headed to the first of five bridges. Downtown Pittsburgh is on a peninsula between two rivers that merge into a third. We would take 5 total bridges to move to the north shore, back to downtown, back to the north shore, over to the south shore and finally back to the downtown area by mile eleven. The bridges were historic and had a lot of character. They only had a slight incline and the views were phenomenal (Pittsburgh really is a beautiful city). They connected some of the coolest neighborhoods and this whole section of the race was really entertaining.

Right after the final bridge at mile 11, the half marathoners turned left, went back downtown for the finish line. The rest of us turned right and headed up the one really big hill on the course heading towards the “hill district” (not what you want to see on a marathon map!)

By this point, I knew that I was on track for a personal worst. I was running at about 10:30/mile since the starting line I had no speed in my legs at all. Usually I can start strong, but not today. The race yesterday, and touring the city has left me sluggish.

By the top of the hill, I started to notice the heat. The temperature was climbing slowly and there were no clouds or breeze to help. That impression was confirmed at the next aid station flying a “yellow flag”- warning us to slow our pace since running conditions were no longer ideal. The aid stations started handing out disposable face cloths soaked in ice water (those were so wonderful)!

The second half of the course was less scenic then the first. No more bridges, but we traveled through a few nice neighborhoods, with some “filler miles” in between. The spectators, volunteers, bands, and aid stations were all plentiful and allowed the miles to fly by.

Towards the end of the race, most aid stations had run out of ice. That was unfortunate. It wasn’t hot enough for it to be a big deal, but the forecast was not a surprise and they should have had enough for everyone.

In the last few miles, I noticed that I had not imploded at mile 18 like I usually do. My pace was a little slower then at their start of the race, but not by much. I usually start the race in the mid 9 minute range and finish in the low 13 minute range. Today, I started in the mid 10 minute range and was now in the low 11 minute zone. Much more consistent and more enjoyable overall.

We re-entered the downtown core for the final mile towards the finish line. The crowds were great and the weather was beautiful as well. I had a little left in me for the final few hundred yards to the finish.

Finish Time 4:51:51

Overall-2794/4211
Gender-1830/2514
Age Group-195/257

I got my medal (a very nice 3 1/2″ diameter and very heavy medal!) and some post race food (pretty meager selection compared to other races) and a few post race photos. There was a finish line party which really did look like a fun event. I had to maneuver through to get to the Steele Challenge tent to get my bonus medal (for completing the marathon and the 5k). Before heading back to the hotel.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, Pittsburgh Marathon was a really nice event. The city is charming, historic and hilly, making the venue quite scenic. The downtown is a fun place to explore and spend a weekend. The expo is big but relaxed with a lot to see and do. The course is above average for an urban venue. There are certainly stretches of filler miles, but it does a good job of representing the city. The event is mostly well organized, with ample aid stations, eager volunteers, enthusiastic crowds and lots of entertainment on the course. They did run out of ice in the later part of the race and it was discouraging running through an aid station and seeing all the used face cloths on the street and none being available. They need to make sure they don’t run out of supplies late in the race. The finish line food was quite limited. There were bagels, chips, fruit cups, bananas and cookies. For the very steep registration fee (Pittsburgh is certainly on the high end of marathon fees), they should have provided much more. The finish line party really was a party and was fun to see. Again, I heard by the massage tent that they would not be providing any more massages. This really is unacceptable for the slower runners to be turned away from an advertised benefit that would be available for, again, a very steep registration fee.

From what I could tell, there was nowhere for runners to wait indoors prior to the race (unless you were willing to pay an extra $100 VIP fee). Detroit gives you access to Cobo Hall, Twin Cities grants access to the Metrodone, Houston to the convention center. The weather was nice at the start, so there was no need for an indoor staging area, but it would be nice, and the convention center is right next door.

The finishers shirts are certainly above average and look very nice with an eye-catching design. The full and half marathon shirts were long sleeved, and the relay and 5k shirts had short sleeves. Running the “Steel Challenge” (5k Saturday and half or full on Sunday) gives you one of each which was a thoughtful bonus. The race day program and visitors program was some of the nicest that I have seen.

The bling was pretty good. The marathon medal was a generous 3.5″ in diameter and quite heavy. The design was a little generic with the skyline in the background and one of the city’s many bridges in the foreground. Previous years had a much more graphic representation of the city’s bridges which was much more striking. This year’s just seemed a little uninspired. The ribbon was beautiful. It was a light blue with yellow line sketches of the city’s beautiful bridges with “Runners If Steel” printed in bold black print. The 5k medal was very similar to the marathon, but 2″ diameter (fine for a 5k). The ribbon was a single color and could have at least had the name of the race on it. The bonus medal for the Steele Challenge was very cool. It had this 3D steel girder design which worked very well. It was 2.5″ diameter and did feel a little small. The ribbon was similar to the marathon/half marathon ribbon but in different colors (blue bridges on a yellow background for the Steel Challenge, and yellow bridges on a blue background for the half and full) and complements that medal nicely.

So, overall, they did a good job, but there are areas that scream for improvement. Certainly a worthwhile race if you live in the region or will be traveling through the area in the spring. If you are looking for a Pensilvania marathon for the 50/50 club, this is worth considering, but I have heard very good things about Philadelphia. In the immediate area, Cincinnati’s Flying Pig Marathon is held on the same day, and I would say that it is a superior event overall, but Pittsburgh in worth consideration as well.

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Race Report: Hot Chocolate 15K-Minneapolis

April 18, 2015.

It was a beautiful day for a run.

I should probably just end the race report right there.

Seriously.

It states everything that was important to me today.

The sun was out. Tempuratures in the low fifties to start, climbing up to about sixty. There was a slight breeze.

I ran in shorts and a t-shirt. I never felt cold. I never overheated. Sweat evaporated quickly since the air was dry. I never had to poor water over my head.

The race race was well organized. Plenty of aid stations and porta-potties. Volunteers were abundant, helpful, and in good spirits.

The expo was small, but energetic. I got in and out quickly (although I wish they had a mail out option…driving an hour each way is a hassle…). They included a very nice full zip hoodie (that will make for a nice pre/post run layer), and a hat that states “Will run for Chocolate” (which is very true, but I cannot see myself ever wearing…)

The course was flat. The roads were in rough shape from the winter (especially the last mile).

The “chocolate” on the course was disappointing (marshmallows, tootsie rolls, chocolate chips that tasted like wax). The chocolate at the finish line was awesome (hot chocolate and chocolate fondue in an oversized bowl with lots of dunkable goodies).

The finishers medal is one of the most unique that I have seen…it looks like a chocolate bar with a wrapper indicating the city and the race. The “foil” is partially pulled back and a bite has been taken from the corner. Bonus points for creativity. It is what got me to register for this event.

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I got a PR for the 15K. This was not a surprize since this was my first race at this distance. It was a decent time-1:22:55 (8:54/mile) which placed me in the top 19% overall (474/2491). Considering that 1) this was a taper run and 2) I have been struggling with speed and endurance all season, I was quite pleased with the outcome.

But, most importantly, I enjoyed this event. I enjoyed the freedom of running on a beautiful day, at whatever pace that felt right, and surrounded by so many others who are passionate about the sport.

It was a beautiful day for a run. That is really all that needed to be said…

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Polar Dash Race Report

January 1st, 2015.

The Polar Dash.

Out of all the races on my calendar, none brings up a sense of dread like this event.

It involves running…outdoors…in January…in Minnesota.

During the past two years, the wind chill during each race hovered around -30F. The roads were as clear as they could get them, but they were never ideal. Black ice was everywhere. The warming tents were nice but rarely even get close to the freezing point. They cut the wind, but they did little more then that.

I do this race since I need an occasional winter event on the schedule to keep me motivated. Also, this race is part of the Team Ortho race series. I do the series every year for the bling, the swag, and the train wrecks. Yes, Team Ortho is good at train wrecks. They never fail to entertain. There was the year that the timing mats didn’t work, so we were asked to simply e-mail them what we thought what our “official” results should be to them. There was the year that we were instructed on an out and back HM to “turn around whenever you feel like it…we won’t be checking…”. Let’s not forget about the canceled marathon because of the CHANCE of sprinkles. Yes, the train wrecks just keep on coming. But, they tend to send me double (or even triple) swag so I can’t really complain.

This year was shaping up to be a train wreck for the ages. They called it “The Yeti Challenge”. There would be 4 races on the same day, and they would be on the same course. There would be a 15 mile race starting at 9 am,  a 10 k starting at 9:30 am (after the 15 miler started and hopefully ending before the 15 miler would end). Then they would have a 5k at noon. In between, there would be multiple heats of the new 1500m. Then they would have two challenge events. The Yeti Challenge (10k, 5k, 1500m) and the Super Yeti Challenge (15 mile, 5k, 1500m). All of this with the same bib and the same chip on the same course with multiple races running simultaneously. This coming from the folks that can’t time a single race correctly.

I planned to be there early to watch the carnage. I was hoping that they would supply snacks…

I got there in plenty of time. The parking lot was a distance from the event venue and they had a free “yellow limo” service. This went smoothly. The weather cooperated for once. The mercury was at 22F for the drive in and got up to 35F. We had sub-zero a couple of days ago, and the deep freeze was returning within 48 hours, but we lucked out on race day this year. I would be participating in the Yeti Challenge. 3 races, about 10 miles, four medals, one patch, and one fleece jacket. Despite the Team Ortho screw ups, they got the swag to keep me coming back!

Arriving at the venue, everything was well laid out. The warming area worked (mainly since it wasn’t that cold to begin with) and the roads were mostly clear and dry. The course is the same as every year. It is a scenic out and back along the Mississippi River.The 15 milers went off without a hitch and my 10k started about 30 minutes later…also without a hitch. My feet were cold for the first mile and then warmed up nicely. I never go fast on these races (I just run slowly in the cold when I am all bundled up). These were fun runs and I was not overly concerned about time.

10k-58:51 (501/1191)

After the race, I got some snacks and hot chocolate before heading to the warming area. They had packet pick up for their next event so I claimed my bib/chip/hoodie for the Get Lucky HM in March. I then went to bag drop and checked that gear and my first medal with the rest of my gear.

I did get cold waiting around for the 1500m. My cloths were drenched and I got cold and stiff very quickly. Starting the 1500m was slow. My legs had really stiffened up on me and I was barely shuffling for the first half of the event. So far, I was disappointed by the lack of disasters. Team Ortho had their act together today! Well, those hopes were soon dashed. The 1500m was long (real long…like 1/3 mile too long…) but they made up for it by making the 15 miler about a mile short. The 15 mile race was certified, so why bother putting the turnaround at the right spot?

1500m: 12:55 (288/632) => not 1500m!!!

There wasn’t much time after the 1500 finished until the start of the 5k and I just stuffed my 1500m medal into a zippered pocket and lined up At the starting line. I didn’t have time to get cold or stiff, but I was getting tired of running the same stretch of road. Bottom line, I didn’t break any records.

5k: 31:10 (573/2079)

Yeti Chaallenge: 1:42:56 (133/337)

Afterwards, I avoided the snacks, went to the warming tent, got my Yeti Challenge medal and patch along with my reclaimed bag drop. Overall, a fairly successful event. That said, I doubt I will run it again. I signed up this year for the Team Ortho series for the fourth (and likely final) time. They are the same race with similar swag every year. They are expensive and I think I will check out other races series in 2016. It will be a little odd not partaking in this New Years Day tradition in the future, but I think I will get over it quickly if the race day tempuratures plummet to -30F again next year…

IMG_0362

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Bling Junkie

I admit it. I am a bling junkie. I run for bling and I choose events (partially) on who has the best bling.

This started at Weight Watcher, where I got a few awards for weight loss, and started to really appreciate those. They were earned. I worked hard for them. I could see it, touch it and help me remember my journey.

When I decided to run a 5K, I check to see if there were finishers medals. Found one with a cool “stained glass” look. It would actually fit together with medals from other events that year. I wanted it. I wanted it so bad that I decided to sign up…even though it was a 7K!

Nothing has ever felt quite as good as getting that first medal around my neck. The second was for a Half Marathon. That one was a cheap ugly medal and I was so let down when they gave it to me. I worked too hard for that. From that point on, I knew I was bling motivated. No, it wasn’t the only reason to pick a race. I exercised to stay fit and healthy. I exercised to keep the weight off. I signed up for events to keep me motivated to exercise. I would hang the medals in my exercise room to chronicle my journey and as a visual reminder to keep me motivated. The more bling…the motivated I was. The more motivated I was, the more bling I earned.

Forty medals in 18 months.

I think I have a problem….

100_0400 copy

100_0403 copy

100_0427 copy

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